Tampa Fishing Reports

July 2010 Tampa Fishing Report

0615maxbigsnookAt the beginning of June, it appeared that, with the exception of chasing an occasional tarpon, fishing efforts this summer would be focused on redfish and the random large summer seatrout...then, it happened.  As if coming from nowhere, our long overdue snook showed up on the beaches.  Their arrival this summer was as late as it has ever been, but decent numbers of fish are now available. Supporting this statement, snook were caught on almost every trip in the last two weeks, with several days producing over a dozen fish.  Many of these "high fish count" days included numerous smaller male fish in the 24 to 28 inch range, but there were plenty of larger fish sprinkled in. 


0617charlessnook2Historically, there is a good bite at first light as well as late in the day.  The prime time during daylight hours is almost always about an hour and a half into the outgoing tide, and the bigger the tide, the better.  Any day that has a strong outgoing tide as the sun is setting represents the "perfect storm" for snook fishing. Fish may be hooked one after another and, if your luck is really running good, they could all be big fish. In summary, fishing during low light periods and or during strong tides will greatly enhance your chances of putting a hook in a snook's mouth. 

Any deep cut near the mouth of a pass is a likely holding spot for snook.  Deeper swash channels on the beach side of our barrier islands are another preferred location, although the fish, on average, are smaller in these areas.  The last type of structure to target would be any rocks or rock piles in close proximity to the beach.  Whichever of these locations you fish, use frisky, un-weighted live baits for best results.  Pilchards, threadfin herring, grass grunts, and ladyfish will all get a snook's attention.  Shad is probably the best, big fish bait out there.  0609jamiebig redThis bait can be cast netted both inside the intercoastal waterway as well as out along the beaches and under major bridges.  Shad, which are typically seven to eight inches in length,  make a distinct slapping sound with their tails unlike any other bait fish.  These baits will typically be heard before being seen.  Harvest these with a cast net but don't put too many in your bait well as they will die if not given a lot of breathing room. Immediately proceed to an area holding large snook and hang on. 

As the tide starts to head towards high, it's time to switch tactics and chase redfish.  On any day with good tidal movement, redfishing has been consistent over the last month. Fish have been averaging from 25 to 30 inches.  On certain outings, keeping a limit was difficult as too many over slot fish were caught.  Small live pinfish and chunks of larger pinfish fished under bobbers has been an effective approach on the open flats.  Around structure such as docks and mangroves, split shotted cut pinfish and cut whitebaits have been well received. As summer wears on and water temps continue to climb, look for these fish to really seek the shade on the higher phases of the tide. Perfect your skip cast so that you can present baits way up into the shadow line. 

0615willwredfish2Trout are still available but both their size and numbers shrink as summer progresses. Fishing grass flats near the edges of deeper channels is an effective approach and may yield larger fish than those found drifting the grass flats.  Whitebait is easily the most productive bait.  With all the snook and redfish activity right now, however, it's hard to justify targeting trout.  Tarpon are still around in decent numbers off of the beaches down towards Clearwater for anyone willing to set up and be patient.  Drifting crabs in front of oncoming fish is a time tested method as is fishing with large threadfin herring, either under a bobber or on the bottom along "highways" typically followed by tarpon.  Make sure to use a float on your anchor so you can just "pitch it and go" if you hook a fish.  

FYI, I will not be fishing in July due to shoulder surgery.  If you would like me to help arrange a fishing trip for you with another captain, I will certainly do so.  If you want to wait, I should be back in action in August. Feel free to call or email me at any time during the month of July. Good luck and good fishing.

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