South Shore Tampa Bay Report By: Capt. Christopher Taylor

Summer is here and the tripletail bite is on fire. During the month of May, the action can really kick up. These fish are highly active on the right tidal movement and many can be caught. Tripletail have a great reputation for their performance abilities when being hooked. From lots of drag pull and jumps to breakoffs and pulled hooks. Many anglers go to great lengths just to catch one. Most popular methods used to catch tripletail are very simple to learn and use.

Locating tripletail right now is not very hard. They can be found near beaches, in passes and in the open water. On rising and falling tides, tripletail will be found on and around vertical structure, floating objects and floating on the surface of the water. Passes hold many tripletail this time of year, especially due to their spawning migration that starts in May and ends in late summer. The popular areas for tripletail located in Tampa Bay are most commonly found out by the Skyway bridge area and shipping channels.

When fishing these areas mentioned, I recommend free-lining live or cut scaled sardines, or live shrimp within the target area or “strike-zone” using 30-pound fluorocarbon leader and a 3/0 hook. The addition of a cork, or a few split-shot, may be necessary to keep baits in a specific location during stronger tides.

The phrase “match the hatch” is a tried and true method used to select the proper bait for fishing any given area. The Hillsborough and Pinellas County waterways, right now, are filled with scaled sardines. These leaf size bait-fish are great for catching tripletail, especially when there are many swimming about. Scaled sardines can be caught by throwing a cast net or buying them at a few small bait shops. Some bait shops sell scaled sardines, but most of the time you have to use a cast net to catch them. I recommend catching enough to use for bait as well as a few extra to throw as chum. You will be able to find these baitfish at the channel markers and shallow-to-deep transition areas nearest boat channels. I use a 10-foot 3/8 mesh Humpback cast net to gather my bait. I can usually catch enough bait for a trip in one or two casts due to the ease of opening in the net design. If you’re interested in catching tripletail there is no other time like now to target them.