Low Tide Fishing
Capt. Fred Everson
November 12, 2008
Tampa Bay - Saltwater Fishing Report
The weather was much better this week, cooler but with less wind. A drop in water temperature and lack of rain has improved water clarity, but it's still a little murky for this time of year. Despite that, the bait was still on the flats, and it was easy. Furthermore, I saw bait practically everywhere I fished. That's due to change any day now, but then there have been winters in years past where there were local sardines were available December through January. That should make the guides happy, along with a slew of recreational anglers who also rely on live bait.
I had another good day to look for cobia last week with light winds on a low tide. I did not see any of the big ling, and saw only one spotted eagle ray. Cobia will swim with the rays, and the bigger the ray, the more apt it is to have a fish with it. I haven't given up on them yet, and will search for them again after the next cold front.
Of more concern is the absence of schooling redfish on the Southshore flats. In mid November I'm accustomed to seeing way more fish than I have on my last two trips. We had a perfectly light breeze out of the north to drift the flat between Apollo Beach and Simmons Park, and a baitwell full of sardines, yet we caught only a couple of reds, one of which was short. That's not typical. This time of year I normally see hundreds of fish. Last time I fished that flat we saw less than a dozen reds, and the conditions were good – clear blue skies and a light chop.
We did spot a few big snook, maybe six or seven fish that were widely scattered over the flat. These fish are a lot harder to catch – when you see them, they see you. The best way to tie into a trophy snook in clear shallow water during daylight hours is to get off the boat and wade. Even then the odds of hooking the 40-inch fish are pretty slim, but you might find a fish in the 28 to 33 inch slot. If I'm trying to catch one of these fish, I'm wading with unweighted white jerk baits on sturdy, sharp hooks. I prefer a low tide around sunset for this trip – last two hours of the fall and the first hour of the rise. With jerkbaits, I like a 30 or 40 pound monofilament leader at least 24 inches long. When a big snook inhales a jerkbait, even the 40-pound leader is in jeopardy if the fish is hooked deep. If the fish's lips are on the leader and it's big enough to take drag, it will probably wear through the leader before you get a chance to land it.
Snook, redfish, trout, Spanish mackerel, snapper, cobia, shark
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