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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

July 1 - 3

A week of thunderstorms popping up is a reminder to make sure you leave a float plan with someone on shore. Monitor the weather band on your VHF radio and be vigilant for changing weather.


two fishermen with red grouper
Gag and red grouper are being caught inside of 100-feet on party boats out of Hubbard's Marina.

Gulf fishing offshore and in nearshore waters has been good. A variety of fish is being caught. The shallows from 40-feet out are producing a few mahi mahi, white grunts, porgies, mangrove, lane, and vermilion snappers, and some red and gag grouper. The nearshore bite has been good and dolphin (fish) that were caught were a nice surprise and addition to the fish box. 

Coming off Tuesday’s new moon we could see a good mangrove snapper bite, particularly at night. Tarpon have been in good numbers along the beaches from Boca Grande to Anclote Key.

Deep water anglers are pulling in some monster gag and red grouper along with an occasional scamp grouper. Some mangrove snapper to about 11-pounds have been caught. Nearshore mangos have run in the 2- to 4-pound size range.

Blackfin tuna, cobia, a few kingfish and an occasional wahoo are being caught at about 40- to 60-miles out. Deep water red snapper action continues with some very big American red snapper being caught.


guy fishing from shore while the sun rises
A sunrise hook-up to a rolling tarpon is a great way to start the day on Tampa Bay.

Good numbers of snook have been caught and released this past week and it’s a guarantee with this week’s new moon tides that many more will be chewing along with those that are spawning. Please continue to carefully release these fish to help increase the fish stocks.

Some of the best redfishing action has been around the eastern and south shores of Tampa Bay. Most have been caught on live pilchards but some anglers have done well with pinfish, live shrimp, and cut ladyfish or mullet when fished on the higher tides around the mangroves. The water temperature is pretty high for this time of year, so look for some cool water wherever you fish. Deep holes, bends in creeks and rivers, channels and deeper potholes all can provide a cooler habit for fish this time of year. Residential canals with large boats will typically have good depth, and the shade of the boats and the docks make for great spots for flounder, redfish, snook, mangrove snapper and trout.

Tarpon action continues and with this week’s late afternoon outgoing tides, there should be plenty more of it taking place up and down the coast. Siesta Key action has been good with Point ‘O Rocks producing some numbers of poons being jumped and landed. Bean Point has been very active along with Longboat Key and the passes at Longboat, New Pass, and Big Sarasota Pass. In Pinellas, tarpon action from Egmont Key all the way to Tarpon Springs has been good. Anglers have had good success with crabs, pinfish, threadfins, and jumbo shrimp. Top lures catching poons have been MirrOlure Catch 2000 with heavier hooks, MirrOlure 37MR19 MirrOdine, MirrOlure 65MRFGO, DOA Trolling Model Baitbuster, and the DOA Swimming Mullet. Fly anglers have done well with black and purple bunny flies and Toad flies. Several anglers reported jumping fish on chartreuse and white Clousers.


Heavy rains and lots of lightning have presented challenges for anglers fishing afternoons and evenings for bass. But the great thing about fishing most lakes in West Central Florida is that you’re never far from shore to wait out the rain and escape the lightning. 

Good action around the shorelines with a fly rod is the norm this time of year with heavy rains washing insects off the banks and out of trees into the water. Tying fly imitations for forage like worms, crickets and spiders will be very effective here. 

Rains can also encourage lots of frogs to head to the shorelines in search of some buggy food along with the fish. Froggin’ with weedless frog lures can pull out some monster post-spawn bass this time of year. The DOA PT-7 weedless topwater lure is perfect for tossing in or around heavy cover like lily pads, hydrilla, or brush piles for those monster bass. If flipping is your thing, big soft plastic worms or a snake imitation such as the DOA SnaKoil can be deadly and make for a lot of Kodak moments.

‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

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


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