At 10 a.m. the air is thick, hot and slippery and, recently, the morning tide sluggish. The general rule is fish the best-moving tide, if possible. The past week in the Gandy area the preferred tide has been incoming, and the time of day has proven to be a nonissue. The sluggish tide provided a sluggish bite on the morning trips. The afternoon trip I had on Thursday was set for a 1:30 start. As we arrived to the first spot, the tide was slowly trickling and the seabreeze produced showers around the bay and gave us a nice refreshing breeze. The tide began moving faster after about five minutes. Over the next hour or so we caught and released snook from 22 inches all the way up to 41 inches. Three fish were over 35 and two were at 30 inches, not a bad start. Don't be afraid of the bait fry, the big stuff is out there if you're looking for snook. If not, snapper are grinding hard on the fry baits. They can be found on just about any dock piling, rock pile or bridge piling around the bay. Mackerel have also been engulfing the fry and turning up their nose at the larger sardines. The terminal tackle for snook is a 40 series reel spooled with 15-pound braid attached to a 20-pound leader and a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook. If the bait is smaller, I use a Nos. 1 or 2. Snapper same rig as above and add split shot. If the bite slows, try dropping to a 15-pound leader. For mackerel I prefer the same rig but add a 40-pound leader with a No. 1 long shank silver hook. If the toothy critters cut you off, go to 60 pound.
Tim Whitfield can be reached at (813) 714-0889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.