Summertime fishing sometimes requires extra patience. It is tempting, especially when the bite is slow, to want to head to another spot, if only to cool off. Even with the stifling heat, however, snook, snapper and cobia are cooperating.
What's hot: Areas on the outside edges of the mangroves that have good water movement are a favorite staging for hungry snook. Bay area bridges at night have been providing heat relief for fishermen as well as mind-blowing fishing. Live shrimp are a favorite night snook bait. Snapper are everywhere there is structure and moving water. Artificial reefs and natural hard bottom cut into the sides of the shipping channels have been mango havens. The new hatch of baitfish provide ideal treats for mangrove snapper.
Tip: Use a small-mesh cast net. The bait on the flats in Tampa Bay will wreck a three-eighths-inch mesh cast net. The Christmas tree effect is caused when the baitfish get halfway through then get stuck. The only way to clear a cast net is to shake it and watch the bait fly everywhere. Having a choice of nets is an asset as well as a time- and resource-saving tactic.
Equipment: Now that cobia are appearing regularly, bring along one rod that is a beefier than normal. When bowed up with a nice cobia, you want all the advantages you can get. A long-handled gaff is a big help as well. These bruisers will shoot right through most landing nets and are famous for going ballistic when they hit the deck.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at snookfish.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 310-6531.