What's hot: August typically is difficult for fishing in Tampa Bay. Lethargic fish and extreme heat can make for a long day. But with the proper approach, great angling can still occur this time of year. Mangrove snapper are here in force, the biggest push of fish since the frigid back-to-back winters a few years ago. Almost any area with structure — bridges, artificial reefs, shipping channel edges — is a good place to search.
Tip: Snapper are tricky and have keen eyesight. Therefore the lightest leader for the conditions is recommended. Also, they are notorious bait stealers. Hooks should be set on the first indication of a strike. If you let them "take the bait" they will swim away weighing just a bit more. Always bring extra bait since you can burn through dozens in no time when on a hot snapper bite.
Heat relief: Fishing in the shadows of bridges offers an escape from the brutal heat, and also is a good place to fish for multiple species — pompano, snapper, cobia, tarpon, and the occasional black drum. Fiddler crabs are the bait of choice. Try to get an early start before it gets too hot, or go late in the afternoon.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 310-6531 or visit fishontampabay.com/captains.aspx.