Tropical Storm Colin dampens fishing, but only short-term
In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Colin, which blew past Anna Maria Island in the Gulf of Mexico June 6, fishers are managing to hook up with some fish. I’m not saying the fishing is as good as normal, but having a successful day on the water is attainable.
The action is improving daily as the water settles and the calendar heads into summer.
Fishing inshore on the flats might be tough for a few more days this week due to the water being stirred up from currents, wind and rain. You may find your favorite spots aren’t producing like they normally do. Well, give the water some time to clean itself up and settle and you should notice the fish falling into their summertime patterns.
If patience isn’t your thing, consider a move from the flats into the Gulf of Mexico. Cleaner, clearer water is present in the Gulf, where mangrove snapper and grouper can be targeted and what’s wrong with that? You’ll probably come across some Spanish mackerel, sharks and, if you’re lucky, a cobia or two.
So, rather than cancel your weekend of fishing to stay home and do chores, try venturing out to the reefs and wrecks for some “reel” action.
Capt. Warren Girle is fishing nearshore and offshore structure for mangrove snapper. Quality fish in the 20-inch range are being caught on free-lined pieces of fresh-cut shiners. While targeting snapper, Girle’s putting his clients on Spanish mackerel, gag grouper and an occasional cobia.
Moving to the flats, Girle is catching his share of spotted seatrout. Slot-size fish 15-20 inches are readily taking live shiners for bait. While targeting trout, Girle is hooking up macks, bluefish and jack crevalle.
Also, tarpon — although a little more scarce than the past few weeks — are being caught via live crabs or live threadfin herring. Fish 80-200 pounds are jumping the hook.
Capt. Aaron Lowman is working inshore and nearshore reefs and rock piles with good results. Mangrove snapper and gag grouper are taking shiners combined with a bottom rig. Spanish mackerel and cobia are being taken by his clients in the same areas — only on free-lined shiners instead of weighted ones. Some hungry sharks are lurking around nearshore structure, providing great action for those willing to toss a bait. Spinner and blacktip sharks are the most abundant.
Finally, spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook are steadily biting during moving tides. Free-lined live shiners are a sure bet for both species.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle are making frequent stops by the pier to harass the schools of hatch bait. Pier fishers using small jigs, spoons and Gotcha plugs are finding success with all three species.
Pier fishers baiting with live shrimp are reeling in variety — most common are mangrove snapper and black drum — along with flounder and an occasional catch-and-release snook.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is working the flats of southern Tampa Bay and throughout Terra Ceia Bay with good results.
He’s setting up his anglers with live shiners to attract attention to the hook from catch-and-release snook. Shallow areas where oyster bars are present are holding good numbers of fish — most 20-30 inches in length — to target.
Spotted seatrout are being found on 6- to 8-foot-deep grass flats. Live shiners as bait are attracting slot and over-slot trout to the hook and, mixed in are bluefish and macks.
Also, inshore rock piles and docks are good for mangrove snapper and flounder. Keeper-sizes of both species are being caught during slower moving tides. Live shiners combined with a split shot are proving effective.
Last but not least, Capt. Jason Stock is having an exceptional week on the water. While working offshore, Stock is catching some of the best of the best —cobia, tripletail, permit and hefty mangrove snapper.
For the trips and permit, Stock is sight-casting live baits to the fish — crabs for the permit, whitebait for the tripletail. For the cobia, Stock is setting up anglers with artificials like the Hogy Lure. Lastly, for the snapper, free-lined shiners — whole or fresh-cut into chunks — are resulting in fish up to 22 inches.
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