The humidity is up, the heat is intense and the fishing is following suit.
Whether inshore or offshore, there is plenty of productive fishing. Red grouper, snappers and permit are being caught around nearshore and offshore structure. Also in these areas are flounder, goliath grouper and shark.
Moving inshore is providing good action, too. Spotted seatrout can be found around deep grass flats during incoming tides. Expect also to hook into mackerel, ladyfish and even small blacktip sharks. Shallower flats are producing sizzling action on catch-and-release snook. Free-lined shiners in these areas are producing respectable numbers of linesiders. Sessions resulting in 30-40 snook are not uncommon.
On my Southernaire charters, I’m starting off in the morning targeting mangrove snapper. These fish are being taken around rocks and docks throughout southern Tampa Bay. On average I’m seeing a dozen or so fish in the box before the bites starts to slow down.
Once we have dinner in the cooler, I’m migrating to the flats to get in on the spotted seatrout bite. These fish are being found among the deeper grass during morning incoming tides. Live, free-lined shiners or shiners under a cork are working best as bait. Actually, most bites are occurring on the smaller-sized shiners — “hatch bait,” as we like to call it. Mixed in with the trout bite are Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and some small blacktip sharks.
Lastly, catch-and-release snook are abundant on some of the shallow grass flats in Tampa Bay. Free-lining shiners during swift moving tides is resulting in some phenomenal snook action. For these fish, the medium-to-large shiners are working best as bait. Most catches are 20-28 inches, with hook ups of as many as 25-30 fish on a morning trip.
Capt. Warren Girle is working charters over nearshore structure in the Gulf of Mexico. By using live shiners combined with a 1/2-ounce knocker rig, Girle is landing respectable numbers of mangrove snapper. Most catches are 15-20 inches. Mixed in with the snapper bite are juvenile gag and red grouper, as well as numerous Key West grunts.
Changing baits to free-lined pass crabs or Doc’s goofy jigs is producing another favorite among local anglers — permit. These “hub caps” are being caught by lucky anglers in the same areas as the snapper. Permit in the 10-pound range are the norm.
While fishing Sarasota Bay, Girle is catching numerous trout on flats of 3-5 feet in depth. Live shiners fished under a popping cork are attracting attention spotted seatrout as well as Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and an occasional bluefish.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is taking charters to the nearshore ledges and hard bottom with good results. By bottom fishing with live shiners or pinfish, Lowman’s clients are catching keeper-size red grouper, as well as mangrove snapper and Key West grunts. An occasional flounder is being taken.
Moving inshore, Lowman is targeting spotted seatrout throughout the lush grass flats of Anna Maria Sound. Live shiners under a popping cork are producing the bite. While targeting trout, his anglers also are catching ladyfish and Spanish mackerel.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is targeting a variety of species throughout the waters of southern Tampa Bay and in the Gulf of Mexico. To start, Gross is targeting mangrove snapper on the inshore and nearshore reefs. Mixed in with the snapper are grouper and flounder.
After the reef bite calms down, Gross is migrating to the flats to target spotted seatrout. Live shiners under a cork are providing the best action. Catch-and-release snook also are being caught on the flats. Free-lined shiners are the best bait for this.
Capt. Jason Stock is working the offshore waters for a variety of fish. Permit are being found sunning themselves over wrecks in 50-100 feet of water. Live crabs cast in their direction are quickly being devoured, resulting in drag-screaming runs and sore arms for Stock’s clients. Bottom fishing offshore is providing good action for a variety of snapper, including mangrove, yellowtail and American red.
Moving inshore, Stock is chasing some of the remaining tarpon. Live threadfin herring and shiners are working during the morning bite. On the evening outgoing tides, live crabs are a no-brainer. Fish up to 150 pounds are being brought boat side.
Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters, also is targeting tarpon along the beaches. Casting pass crabs or threadfin herring is producing a bite. Most catches are 50-120 pounds.
Moving to the flats, White’s anglers are hooking up with numerous spotted seatrout. Most catches are slot-size fish in the 15-20 inch range. Also on the flats, White is catching an occasional redfish. Catch-and-release snook round out the flats experience for White. Rallies of schooley-size fish are common.
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