Mid Summer Conditions
Capt. Fred Everson
August 13, 2009
Tampa Bay - Saltwater Fishing Report
I don't think I have ever seen the water clarity on Southshore Tampa Bay as poor as it has been in recent weeks. It's due to all the rain we have had in the past few months and it's probably not going to improve any time soon. That's the bad news. The good news is that is hasn't affected the fishing, which has actually been pretty good. That's especially true on the flats around sunrise and sunset. Trout, redfish and snook will usually feed on an outgoing tide in low light situations. And despite the cloudy water conditions and high temperature, there is still plenty of bait on the flats.
Mid summer bait can be tough to find, and a lot of it is too small to fish with. But so far this summer, there have been plenty of big baits on the flats south of the Little Manatee River. Seeing it has been tough, and if you want to speed the process into high gear, you need to chum them up. Here a quarter inch net will do the trick in shallow murky water, better than the 3/8 inch mesh. You won't gill many baits with the smaller net, whereas the larger net can become a nightmare of gilled sardines. Often they are just big enough that you can't shake them out of the net, rather you must pinch them out one at a time – a long, tedious job.
My last trip was a sunset wadefishing expedition with my buddy Mike Strickland of Riverview. I was throwing a new penny colored jerk bait on a weighted keeper hook – a favorite color for redfish and snook, and particularly effective in murky water. I didn't have to travel more than a hundred yards from the boat before I hooked up with what I thought was a jack crevalle. It never broke the surface, took lots of drag, and ran a big circle around me. I was somewhat surprised when I reeled it close enough to see that it was a 28 inch snook. We posed it for a few pictures and it swam off no worse for the wear.
A short time later, I switched to a five inch soft plastic mullet on a jig, as I saw a big snook strike several times a short cast in front of me. On my third or fourth cast, the fish struck. I knew from the violence of the hit that I had a good fish on, and a second later it went airborne and the hook pulled, slingshotting the jig back at me. Had I not ducked, the lure would have hit me square in the forehead. I'm sure it would have knocked me down. Minutes later the same thing happened to Strickland, but he didn't get out of the way and it hit him on the cheek under his eye. Fortunately he was fishing with a 3/16 ounce weighted worm hook instead of a heavier jig head, and he got hit with the lead instead of the hook point. A good point for always wearing sunglasses.
We were both back at the boat shortly after sunset and about to get out of the water when I saw a school of fish working their way towards us. I thought they were jacks until 30 red tails poked through the surface. I dumped a cast into the middle of the pack, and instantly hooked a 22 inch redfish -- a nice way to end the day
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