Let’s Start Off with the Bait Situation: Especially Greenbacks – For some reason we’ve not figured out yet, greenbacks are eluding us around the bay. One day they’re on the flats the next day they are gone. Also this year we’ve not seen the small fry yet; unless it’s going to be a late spawn.
The only consistent location seems to be the Skyway Bridge and particularly the south fishing pier. However the water is exceptionally clear and unless you’re throwing a larger heavy net the bait tends to run out from under the others. You also have to contend with those strong tide days where it takes at least a 20 pound net to get down to the bait before it collapses with the current. Then there are the dolphins that are now grabbing your nets when they are full of bait. Not only does it destroy the net, but it can pull you overboard if you’re not careful. Really makes using shrimp much more appealing.
Spotted Sea Trout: We are catching some really beautiful trout throughout the bay. Many are in the upper teens and some low twenties. Apparently they are eating well because they are fat and healthy with some weighing 3 to 4 lbs. Key points to remember are circle hooks, light leader, moving water and popping corks.
Greenbacks, shrimp and artificial lures are doing the trick for me on broken bottom grass flats. I’m either free lining them or fishing them under a popping cork. The artificial’s seemed to work best with a twitch and retrieve method especially through and around pot holes on grass flats.
Spanish Mackerel & King Mackerel: Spanish mackerel is still plentiful around the bay and near shore in the Gulf. With plenty of threadfins schooling throughout the bay there is plenty of food and the mackerel seem to be on an endless feeding frenzy. Sky rocketing fish and diving birds are a sure indicator of feeding fish. Threadfins, greenback, shrimp or any shiny artificial lure will catch plenty. Don’t forget the sharp teeth on these big bruisers so, tackle up with at least 60 lb. Seaguar fluorocarbon and shiny longshank Daiichi hooks and it’s off to the races.
Redfish: We’re beginning to see some decent action using greenbacks, shrimp, and artificial lures and cut bait. As I said last week using cut bait, or the dead sticking method is not my favorite way to fish; there’s not enough action for me. I tend to equate it to watching paint dry. It’s a matter fishing quietly, slowly and of course being in the right spot. It often takes an intensive game plan that involves several moves before you find a productive area and them it might be they’re just not eating when you’re out there. Don’t forget the docks on high water and be quiet.
Snook: (Season Closed Catch & Release Only) According to reports and my own experience the snook are definitely making a showing around the bay area. I’m actually not targeting them as I’ve decided to give them a break during the hot summer weather. We really need to get our population built back up.
Cobia, Mangrove Snapper, Flounder, and Sharks: The cobias are showing on markers, flats and buoy cans especially those holding bait. Mangrove snapper is picking up on the artificial reefs and should continue as the water stays warm. I’m anticipating a good snapper bite all summer. We’re also catching some nice southern flounder on the same rocky bottoms artificial reefs.
The shark bite been exceptional especially when mackerel fishing. We’ve had several large black tips and two huge bulls, so far this summer.
Tarpon fishing has been thriving at the Skyway Bridge, Egmont, and Bean Point and along the beach and passes. They are also starting to migrate up the bay; I already seen some showing up around the Gandy Bridge.
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