Fishing can be tough through the summer, especially as water temperatures top out in the nineties. The fish still eat, but it seems you never catch the numbers as in the spring and fall. Anglers able to stand the heat are doing better on stronger tides. Folks have decent catches during summer months in the deeper, cooler waters. Greenbacks, threadfins, small pinfish, sardines and shrimp always catch fish. For some real excitement, try tossing an artificial lure during the early morning before the water heats up.
Snook (catch and release only): As water temperatures rise later in the day, expect to find snook in deeper passes, washes, docks and holes close to structure. Greenbacks are the bait of choice around the Bay. However, those who prefer artificial action should try topwater lures early in the morning on shallow broken bottom flats. Night snook fishing always proves successful around docks and bridges.
Redfish (catch and release only): Redfish seem on the schedule this year. The bite should continue into September with plenty of action as larger schools begin showing up. Good grass flats with sandy potholes and mangrove shorelines hold redfish. Greenbacks and dollar size pinfish always tempt hungry redfish. However, something stinky on the bottom is hard to resist. For this, try pieces of cut mullet, crab, threadfins, pinfish or ladyfish. Using dead baits often requires something most anglers never carry in the tackle box–patience.
Spotted Sea Trout (catch and release only): Trout action on the deepwater flats is booming. They’re eating shrimp, pinfish and greenbacks along deeper flats with good moving water. Bigger fish seem to cruise early morning flats looking for an easy meal. Tossing a 7M MirrOlure or Top Dog Jr. often produces some real topwater excitement.
Cobia seem to be reasonably plentiful this summer. They usually show up on the back of rays or manatees or just cruising the open water. Cobia are attracted to structure, especially those holding bait. Always check the buoys and keep an eye out when mackerel fishing. They tend to show up at the most inopportune time.
Mackerel and bluefish action is still active with giants chasing any shinny artificial lure or spoon, and they always take live baits. Just look for schools of live bait–net some to fish with, and hang a chum bag over the side. Now, just cast out a live bait and hold onto your rod and reel. If for some reason, they seem to shy away from wire leaders try using 60 lb. Seaguar fluorocarbon leader and tie on a Daiichi long shank #2 or #3 hook. Then, free line your baits in the current with a #3 split-shot weight.
Snapper and sheepshead are showing up throughout Tampa Bay. All the usual places are holding plenty of nice sized fish. Try fishing markers, bridge fenders, docks, seawalls, rock piles, oyster bars or any type structure. Shrimp, rock crabs, mud minnows and small greenbacks work well for snapper. Of course, fiddler crabs, rock crabs oysters, mussels and shrimp always catch sheepshead.