Some bumpy seas over the past week have made it difficult for most anglers to get offshore. Inshore anglers had good action this week despite turbid and stained water. As we get away from last weekend’s full moon fishing should return to normal as currents slow down a bit.
While most anglers chose to stay on shore over the past week, those who braved the rough seas and worked the low-pressure system that was in the area had good catches of a variety of fish to show for it.
Trolling in 60-to 120-feet of water has been productive. A few kingfish are being caught in deeper water around wrecks and artificial reefs. Spanish mackerel have been caught from the beaches and out on spoons and jigs. Anchoring and chumming can make for some fast action when these fish are around.
Weedlines in the Gulf are holding some dolphin. Floating grass will hold these fish and casting jigs or live bait to these areas are producing some smaller “chicken” dolphin and a few larger mahi in the 15-to 20-pound class.
Rough seas made it difficult to stay on the hook this past weekend to target mangrove snapper, but there were some caught. Nearshore waters have been productive for mangos and many have been much larger than the norm with quite a few of them running around 4-to 6-pounds.
An assortment of sharks is being caught while anchored up on nearshore wrecks. Porgies and gray snapper are being caught on artificial reefs along with a few smaller gag grouper,
Water quality inshore continues to be an issue. Tannin stained water the color of tea or coffee along with stirred up sediment are making sight fishing nearly impossible even in shallow water on the flats. But watching for head wakes and tailing fish has been leading anglers right to feeding fish. This week, we have caught quite a few redfish on a soft plastic lure that many might think is a freshwater lure. The D.O.A. Sna-Koil with its slithering action when rigged on a very light Owner Twistlock hook or wide gap worm hook has been getting crushed by some big reds around Tampa Bay. Weedon Island has been producing some nice fish again after a month or so of mediocre fishing there. Good numbers of snook are also being caught there.
Schools of big jack crevalle have been blowing up everything in their paths. Most are very aggressive and will hit most any topwater lure or jig.
On the Southshore of Tampa Bay from Ruskin to the Skyway Bridge, anglers have had good action with snook and redfish with a few flounder and pompano as a bonus. Trout fishing has been just ok, but the largest trout have been caught in fairly deep water on some hard limestone bottom. Depths that have been productive have ranged from 8 to 20-feet of water. An assortment of baits has worked well. For natural baits, live shrimp have been hard to beat along with scaled sardines. Artificial bait users have done well with CAL Curly Tail jigs in near clear, night glow, or pearl colors rigged on a ¼-ounce CAL Jig head as well as the MirrOlure Lil’ John rigged on a 1/8-ounce jig head. Both fall slowly, enticing strikes.
Snook have been caught near the mouths of creeks and rivers this past week, even around the full moon. Some of the top catches of snook caught on artificial lures have been on the new MirrOlure Catch Jr. Mullet pattern that was recently added to the Skin Series. This new mullet look-alike looks just like a finger mullet. As we get closer to mullet roe season over the next few months, you can expect this bait to steadily increase in productivity.
Warm water in small lakes had some cooling periods around rain storms this week, making bass and bluegill more active. Fly anglers have had excellent success using an assortment of flies that imitate worms, spiders, or crickets. A 5-weight fly rod might be the best all-around size and weight fly rod for bassin’. Some prefer a bit heavier fly rod, like a 7 or 8 Wt. when casting poppers or bulkier pattern flies. Pinellas County fly anglers or those looking to learn more about fly tying or fishing can attend one of the Suncoast Fly Fisher’s meetings every third Thursday of each month. Meetings start about 6-p.m. with fly casting demonstrations and fly tying. The club’s regular meeting starts about 7 p.m. and is open to the public and meets at the Walter Fuller Recreation Center located at 7891-26th Av. N. in St. Petersburg. There are a lot of very knowledgeable anglers who are willing to teach, so stop by and see what you’re missing. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!
Capt. Ray Markham