Tampa Bay Report By: Capt. Woody Gore

 Moving water and a live well full of sardines and pinfish will work for snook. Don’t be surprised if you don’t drag a redfish or gator trout off the same broken bottom grass flats. If you’re wanting to snag that snook of a lifetime with the heart-stopping action of a topwater lure, I would suggest tieing on a MirrOlure Top Dog Jr. and walk-the-dog, letting it rattle across that same broken bottom grass flat. Soon, you’ll witness the most incredible strike as a giant snook crashes your lure. Always remember that really big snook are females and probably full of eggs, so handle with care. If you have to lift her out of the water do it gently, then snap a quick photo and return her gently back into the water reviving her slowly.

Finding mackerel is fairly simple. Just locate a spoil bar or inshore reef. Once you’re anchored up-tide from the reef or bar, start pitching a few sardines into the water. If they are close, it won’t take long before the feeding frenzy starts. Use a 2/0 long-shank hook on a 50-pound leader tied to your 15# Seaguar braid on your spinning reel. Nose hook a threadfin or sardine, toss it into the strike zone and hold on tight. Many folks don’t believe it, but mackerel are good table fare. For those you keep, bleed them promptly getting them on ice quickly.

The reds are still biting anything tossed in their direction and should continue to hang on the flats and around the mangroves. A variety of artificial lures are catching their share along with living shrimp, sardines, and pinfish. The key to finding redfish is fishing dark patchy bottoms, especially around schools of larger mullet. On flooding tides, most are holding close to or pushing back into mangrove shoreline. Chumming with live bait often works. Tossing dead threadfins or cut bait up close to the mangroves on flood tides usually brings them out to investigate.

The big trout have started to show up on our flats along with plenty of slot fish. Find a good grass flat with plenty of potholes, I usually refer to these flats as broken bottom flats. Start by working the edges of as many potholes as possible. Trout aren’t too picky and are a good species to hone your artificial lure skills. One good artificial is a DOA Measles shrimp under a popping cork. Hook the shrimp like you would a live one–through the carapace or top of the head. Then cast it out and pop the cork. The popping sound draws the trout’s attention to the bait. Remember, take only what you plan on eating for supper because they do not freeze well. Sea trout are a fragile species and have a delicate slime coat. Please use wet hands or a de-hooker and not dry-hands, rags, or a landing net for the ones you plan to release.

If you’re looking for some late summer fun, particularly for the youngsters, take them snapper fishing. Not only are these fish fun to catch, but they are great eating. Small free-lined greenbacks or pieces of fresh shrimp around markers, bridges or rock piles will usually result in a limit of fish. If the tide is a little strong, add enough split shot to keep the bait down 3 to 6-feet. Don’t forget a chum bag.