Redfish – still catch and release. August should see more redfish action around the Tampa Bay area. This past month, we could find some singles and a few smaller fish, but getting them to take live bait with any consistency was often difficult. We seemed to have better luck using cut bait on the bottom with the rod in the rod holder. We also had decent success with shrimp around mangroves and docks. The Bay area notoriously produces good catches of redfish–you just need to find the ones ready to eat. Redfish push into the mangrove shore lines and oyster bars on incoming tides. Live bait normally produces good catches, but cut bait on the bottom seems to do the trick this month. Early morning artificial lures on the grass flats and around the mangroves offer some excellent excitement. Work both incoming and outgoing tides.
Snook – still catch and release. Snook fishing will continue to be strong this month with some larger fish still in the passes and on the beaches. Expect those near the passes to congregate near the deeper holes and back eddies. They often appear to have lockjaw, but patience seems to pay off when looking for larger fish. Snook of all sizes like dead bait, especially the big ones. Simply cut the tail off a threadfin and let it lay on the bottom. Artificial lures produce some awesome action and, if you’re past the learning curve, tossing plastics to waiting snook can be loads of fun and excitement.
Spotted Sea Trout – still catch and release. Tampa Bay trout are making a comeback. It’s not unusual to catch a limit of nice 18 to 19-inch trout for dinner on any grass flat–provided you’re on good incoming or outgoing tides. Trout fishing is always fun, especially when larger fish are willing to eat. If you’re free-lining greenback sardines or shrimp and the current is moving, you might need to add a #5 split shot to keep the bait down. In water five feet or shallower, try a popping cork. Again, you might want to add a little weight to keep the bait down in the strike zone.
Tampa Bay has its share of mackerel and bluefish and fishing this month should be great. Just look for schools of threadfins, put out a chum bag and hold onto your rod and reel. The mackerel will actually wear you out to the point of putting your rod and reel down and taking a seat.
Tarpon fishing on the beaches has been respectable. Now, they are heading back to the bridges. Try tail-hooking your greenback sardine and let it work against the current. This forces the bait to the top for some breathtaking top-water strikes.