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West Central Florida Forecast

West Central Florida Forecast
West Central Florida Forecast

Capt. Ray Markham covers the fishing forecast from Aripeka to Longboat Key, including Hudson, Anclote Key, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Clearwater, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Anna Maria Island and Bradenton

September 24 - 26

Full moon weeks nearly always produce some exciting action and good fishing. In most instances, this past week was no different. Moving toward the weekend, tides will begin to slow somewhat, but with all the rain we’ve been having cooler waters could mean hotter action for this first weekend of fall.


mangrove snapper fishing
Mangrove snapper action has been steady for anglers fishing on boats out of Hubbard's Marina.

It’s important to know that red tide has not gone away completely—at least in nearshore waters off Clearwater, Dunedin, Treasure Island, Anna Maria, and Venice. There were a few reported fish kills that weren’t major yet still enough to make leaving with a livewell full of bait inshore and arriving offshore with dead bait. The safest thing you might do is get several 5-gallon buckets with bubbler aerators and keep the bait in them until you get offshore to your fishing spots before dumping it in your live well. 

Some nearshore areas are producing a few Spanish mackerel where there’s clean water. Trolling spoons or flashy jigs is your best bet for catching a few of these fish. Most have been coming from depths beyond 50-feet. A few red grouper were caught and released beyond 80-feet off Bradenton this week. Good action with gag grouper has been seen anywhere from 110-to 160-feet between Sarasota and Tarpon Springs. The hot bite continues to be mangrove snapper and some assorted other snappers ranging from 60-to 120-feet. 

A cold front is expected to move south through the area on Thursday, bringing some dryer air for more comfortable fishing. We won’t see a drastic change in temperature but it will feel better with less humidity. Fish react to these fronts by feeding heavily in pre-frontal conditions if the change is radical. The bite slows at the bottom on the barometric change and picks up again as the barometer rises again. Just something to think about as we get into the fall and winter months ahead. 

Lane snapper continue to bite consistently in depths ranging from 40-to 100-feet, according to Capt. Dylan Hubbard out of Hubbard’s Marina. Mangrove snapper action has been steady throughout the region in both near and offshore waters.

The amberjack bite has been mediocre at best, according to recent reports. Typically good action has been in the 120-to 200-foot range, but just not right now. However, these depths have been producing some big porgies, vermilion and yellowtail snapper, almaco jacks, and scamp grouper. 

Stay tuned to the north. With cool fronts beginning, we will be seeing a push of kingfish any time as they migrate southward from the Panhandle. Tripletail action should pick up too when stone crab traps get put back in the water in October. In the meantime, look for trips around any kind of floating objects and along the beaches where there is a line of swim buoys.


redfish fishing
Redfish on an Eppinger Rex Spoon with Capt. Bucky Goldman.

Redfish continue to pop in and out of the bays in large schools, but some of the most consistent fishing for them remains along the South Shore of Tampa Bay from Apollo Beach to the Skyway Bridge. Gold spoons like the Weedless Eppinger Rex Spoon have been crushing fish. Sizes of fish vary from mid-slot upwards of the 40-inch range. Spoons have been effective after the sun is up over the horizon where the flash of the spoon attracts the attention of these fish. The flash might look like pinfish to these reds. The MirrOlure 17MRPIN MirrOdine has also been deadly on these fish. When the action slows, cut ladyfish tossed under mangroves on high tides or around oyster bars as water levels fall will get bit.

Snook fishing continues to be good as these fish migrate into the backcountry, on points, and to creek and river mouths as they move in from the beaches and passes. Jerkbaits have been effective. The DOA CAL 5.5 Jerkbait has been deadly when rigged on a 1/8 oz. jighead or weedless on a worm hook. The darting action seems to imitate a needlefish, one of a snook’s favorite snack foods. 

An occasional pompano being caught has been reported by anglers fishing just inside Longboat Pass. However, a small fish kill was also reported off Anna Maria, so I wouldn’t look for much action with pompano as long as there is some red tide reported in the area. Several reports of pompano action in the Bunces Pass and Pass-A-Grille Channel area were reported by anglers tossing Doc’s Goofy Jigs in yellow/white combination with a pink teaser fly attached.


Good action continues with bass as we come off this past Monday’s full moon. Topwater action early in the day has been good around the Walsingham reservoir. With all the weeds in this body of water, the weedless DOA PT-7 soft plastic walking lure has been a go-to lure here. White/ chartreuse spinnerbaits have also seen some great action here.

The Braden River has had a good bass bite along with some nice bluegill for anglers fishing grass shrimp, crickets, and worms. Six-inch black or purple soft plastic worms have been deadly for bass when Texas rigged with a bullet weight. Whopper Plopper lures have been effective early and late in the day for bass here and at Lake Manatee for bass. 

Get out and wet a line! ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

Capt. Ray Markham
(941)228-3474 or (941)723-2655

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