Tampa Fishing Reports

July 2008 Fishing Report

Snook fishing has been excellent for the last month, largely due to the tighter regulations imposed over the last few years. Although many anglers would like to take home a few more snook dinners, it a great feeling to catch an over slot fish, take a picture, release it and know that this fish is protected and will continue to produce offspring for the rest of it's days. These summer snook have taken up residence in their normal "warm weather" locations in and around major passes. As all experienced snook anglers know though, it’s not so much knowing where these fish are as it is knowing when they will bite. As a general rule, these feeding times are the first two hours in the morning before and after sunrise and on the outgoing tide. Also, some of the largest fish are caught at night for those who don't mind missing a few hours of sleep, as snook are somewhat nocturnal by nature. Whether using whitebait, grass grunts or ladyfish, the key is a natural presentation. Start by getting "uptide" of where the fish are believed to be. Next, cast the bait out and then open the bail so that line can be fed out, as needed, so the bait drifts through the "snook zone" in a realistic, unrestricted fashion. When a fish strikes, a distinct "tick" will be felt. By using the newer braided line, it is much easier to feel this "tick". If the fish feels the hook, it will take off on a powerful run. If it does not, it will simply sink back to the bottom. Simply reel down on a fish that doesn't run and, when you feel weight, set the hook. If using circle hooks, which you should for all catch and release fishing, the hook set is unnecessary. As the line tightens up, the hook will lodge in the corner of the fish's mouth, and the fight is on. Fishing should stay hot well into July and then, as August approaches, these fish will become harder to catch during day light hours...becoming even more nocturnal. Redfishing was equally hot well into June but has cooled a little bit in the last few weeks. With little rain until this past week, and warm temperatures, it seems some of the redfish schools moved off of the flats that they normally inhabit. This should be a temporary situation however as, using last year as a reference, redfishing held up pretty well throughout the summer. With the recent heavy rains and strong tides the first week in July, new groups of fish could show up any day. Look for these summer reds in all of their normal haunts...around docks, along mangroves shorelines and out in the flats in association with mullet. Although this sounds obvious, simply finding redfish is the key as they will typically eat when you do. With this in mind, lay out an itinerary of redfish spots so that you can work fast and effectively. If you set up on a spot and they don't bite in fifteen or twenty minutes, go to the next one. You may fish half a dozen spots on some days before you find you first fish, but on the seventh spot, you may catch a dozen, so keep moving. Like anything else, a successful redfish trip is often the result of hard work and persistence. Redfish are more than happy to eat the whitebait that so many anglers use to catch snook, but pinfish, cut or whole, as well as a variety of cut baits, will work just fine. In targeting summer trout, some quality fish can be found on the beaches and in the passes. These fish are often caught in the pursuit of snook however, and are not targeted near as much as in the winter months, when greater numbers of large trout are present. As summer's heat continues to intensify, early and late day redfish or snook trips are a nice way to stay on the water and not get totally burned up. Look for strong tides at dawn and dusk to determine which days to target. Another summer "inshore" opportunity is night shark fishing. Just as the day is winding down, load up your boat and get to a nearby pass. Drop your chum bags, put out large cut baits on heavier rods equipped with steel leaders and wait for the sun to set. It's anybody's guess how big a shark might take a bait. Some nights are full of two to three footers, but occasionally a large shark will find one of your baits and give you a real work out. If you're interested in catching a few summer snook before things start to wind down or just getting out for a few hours during the cooler part of the day, give me a call. Good luck and good fishing.

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