As water cools, rivers are starting to heat up. A recent charter had two clients who did some "urban" fishing with me previously and were looking to get away from buildings. We went to one of the rivers that empty into the southern part of Tampa Bay and caught a variety of fish. Two slams of trout, reds and snook were in the first couple of hours of a strong outgoing tide. We also caught ladyfish, jacks and hung a few baby tarpon. Tides are critical here, too. Most prefer an outgoing tide as it drains the bays and funnels baitfish and other goodies into narrow constrictions where predators await. The tide was high when we began, and the mangrove shoreline had snook and reds in their roots. Pinpoint casting is needed here. As the water receded, the fish held in the first area of deeper water adjacent to the shoreline.
Equipment: We used artificial baits, mostly plastic tails on jigs. Scent-impregnated, 3-inch shrimp on a one-eighth-ounce red jig head with medium action spin rods worked well. Use 10- or 15-pound test braided line and 30-pound fluorocarbon shock tippets. The water is tannin-stained so when using flies, we included baitfish patterns that had yellow with brown backs in sizes 1 and 2. Bendback fly patterns are perfect around mangroves because they usually will not hang on limbs or leaves with overzealous casting.
Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com or (727) 504-8649.