Like other parts of south Florida, Tampa Bay fishing struggles when water temps are high. However, one good thing is the fish are still biting. If you’re a die-hard angler and able to withstand the heat, try fishing the stronger tides and currents. So far, we’ve been catching a few fish by freelining greenbacks, threadfins, small pinfish, sardines and shrimp in the deeper cooler water. If it’s some real early morning excitement you’re after, try tossing artificial topwaters around a broken bottom grass flat.
Snook are looking for comfortable water. So, as water temperatures rise, expect to find them in deeper passes, washes, around deep-water docks and deep holes close to structure. Around Tampa Bay, greenbacks are the bait of choice. Night snook fishing usually proves successful around docks and bridges.
Redfish seem to be on a hit-or-miss schedule this year. Start watching for schooling reds on grass flats with sandy potholes or along mangrove shorelines. The bait of choice is live or cut greenbacks, threadfin herring or pinfish. On the other hand, it’s hard for them to resist anything stinky on the bottom. So, toss out a piece of cut mullet, crab, threadfin or ladyfish and put the rod in the rod holder.
Sea Trout action is showing up on the deep-water flats on strong tide days. They’re eating free-lined shrimp, pinfish, and greenbacks. You might try fishing along deeper flats with good moving water. We’re catching the larger fish as they cruise early morning grass flats looking for an easy meal.
Cobia seem to be fairly plentiful around the Bay this summer. They usually show up on the backs of large rays or manatees, or just cruising open water. They are particularly attracted to structure, especially when it’s holding bait. Cobia also tend to pop up at the most inconvenient time. Always keep a heavier rod rigged and ready.
Tarpon at the Skyway, Gandy and Howard Franklin bridges should still produce in the light lines–especially early mornings or nighttime. A few should still be spotted cruising the deep drops of any grass flat holding bait.
Mackerel, bluefish and snapper action are still strong with giant mackerel and blues chasing any shiny artificial lure or spoon and always taking live sardines or threadfin hearing. Just look for pods of threadfins. Tie on your favorite lure or net some live bait, put out a chum bag and hold onto your rod and reel. Tie on some 60-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader with a Daiichi #2 or #3 long shank hook. Free-line the baits in the current with a #3 split-shot weight on the leader.