Heavy rains from thunderstorms this week have made it tough on anglers looking to avoid lightning strikes and severe weather. There have even been flood warnings just east of Sarasota/ Bradenton from some of the afternoon storms. While these storms may not occur well offshore, the weather may be quite different when returning to harbor. Monitoring the weather channel on your VHF radio while on the water will help alert you to a dangerous situation if one forms.
The occasional blackfin tuna, wahoo, kingfish, and even some dolphin could be in the catch for anglers fishing the Middle Grounds lately, but getting out for any length of time has been pretty tough for party boats and private boats alike. Anglers targeting red grouper have had some success in 110-to 140-feet of water west northwest of Pinellas. Gag grouper have been cooperating a little more as well.
Several anglers working west of Hernando and Citrus Counties in 25-to 30-feet of water are finding some nice gag grouper while trolling or casting lipped plugs that dive in the 25-foot range. Live pinfish are also accounting for some nice gags here.
The mangrove snapper bite has been very good this week with this past Tuesday’s full moon. Reports have been all over the charts from 20-feet out to 150-feet for mangos chewing baits. Some of the largest have run in the 12-pound class with a few up to 13-pounds. Average sizes in the 70-to 100-foot depth range have been running around five-pounds. Nearshore waters on artificial reefs and rock piles or ledges have been quite productive, giving up some mangrove snapper in the 3-to 5-pound classes. Offshore, federally permitted vessels fishing for red snapper continue to have good catches when they can get out. The last day of their season is August 2.
It’s been a struggle this week for inshore anglers. Dealing with the heat is one thing, but dodging thunderstorms is another. To top it all off, a bright sky most nights has provided a good feeding scenario for mangrove snapper, snook, and redfish. But come morning, the bite slows or halts for extended periods of time. If you are looking for some action, persistence is the key during a slow bite. Our best bite for redfish has come on CAL Jigs with shad tails. Good action with the extreme outgoing tides late in the afternoon has provided some linesider excitement. Look for sunset times and early morning to continue producing some action. North of the Pasco/ Hernando county line, anglers are finding some decent catches of trout, although most have been just over slot until you get up to the northern Hernando/ south Citrus County area. Some of the top trout catches have come on CAL 5.5 Jerk baits rigged on a #4 live bait hook, hooked through the nose of the lure. DOA Deadly Combos have also been productive.
Some fair action around this week’s full moon was reported for anglers fishing very early or just after sundown on Lake Tarpon. Several bass in the 5-pound class were caught on live shiners, but the hottest bite has been around the lake’s perimeter for anglers fly fishing for bream using small foam spider imitations in either black or white tied on #10 hooks. It’s a low stress fishing situation, and one of the local fly clubs, the Suncoast Fly Fisher’s meets the third Thursday of each month at Walter Fuller Park in St. Petersburg about 6:30. Fly casting and fly tying instructions are part of every meeting at the beginning with a program to follow. Give fly fishing a try. You might just find out how rewarding it can be. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!
Capt. Ray Markham