Summer Conditions Continue
Capt. Fred Everson
August 31, 2009
Tampa Bay - Saltwater Fishing Report
The latest new moon provided a great minus tide around sunset, which is probably my favorite time to fish on Tampa Bay. When the sandbars rise out of the water and you can see the swash channels, amazing things can happen.
The problem has been the sudden thunderstorms of late afternoon. The last time I went out at 5:30 PM just after a good downpour with gusty winds. It blew over in half and hour and things cleared off, and I left the dock with Mike Strickland, Sarah Reuter and Bird Glass for a short ride to the Southshore flats. Strickland and I were going to wade, while our friends fished from the boat.
We weren't 100 yards from the boat a half-hour after getting in the water when the sky over the Little Manatee River began to darken. Then there were a couple of flashes of lightning, so we headed back to the boat. The timing was bad, because the tide was just about at the bottom of the low, and the fish were starting to bite. Strickland missed a shot at a redfish, and I missed a snook, but discretion is ever the better part of valor on the Southshore flats in the summer months. We got back in the boat and idled south, but the squall caught up to us and soaked us for the better part of 15 minutes. Then it cleared off, the wind died down and we went right back to where we were. I like to carry disposable plastic ponchos for just such an occasion. I don't mind getting wet, but sometimes the rain is very cold.
I was throwing soft plastic jerk baits on weighted hooks and finally fooled a snook that hit it like a freight train on a downhill grade. After a lot of drag taking and head shaking I finally leadered the fish and measured it – 28 inches on the button. In 15 years I have never caught so many snook over 26 inches, which just goes to show you how the size limit works. I say make the limit 32 to 34 inches if I can catch 30-inch snook regularly. Tasty as snook are, 30-inch fish are worth a lot more on the end of your line than they are in a frying pan.
On the lowest tide occurring right on sunset with perfect conditions we caught only one flounder and a single snook on our last trip. Just goes to show you that fishing is about as predictable as the weather. You play the odds and fish the best tides at the right time of day, but it sure isn't a guarantee you will catch fish.
Shore fishermen are now required to have a saltwater fishing license. The new law went into effect in July.
Water clarity has improved a bit on the Southshore, but I am still getting reports of an algae bloom on the other side of the bay. It has been there for months now and stretches for miles.
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