Saturday, February 24, 2018
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Fishing the flats in lower Tampa Bay

The flats in lower Tampa Bay are holding good numbers of trout, bluefish, pompano and ladyfish. Jigs are the most-productive bait. Drifting the flats while working the jig close to the bottom will find fish faster than anchoring. Trout like to hang in areas that have a mixture of sand holes and grass. The best depth is 3-4 feet. Squeeze down the barbs for an easy release of undersized trout. The blues and ladyfish like to stay in the larger sand holes. They also like the lures worked in a fast, hard-jigging motion. For those who have not caught bluefish, a piece of advice: do not stick your finger in a blue's mouth. They have piranha-like teeth. Use pliers or a dehooking device to retrieve your jig. The females are fun to catch but are a poor food source. You'll know where the pompano are when they skip out from under your boat. When this happens, move upwind of that area and drift back to where they skipped. A small jig worked close to the bottom gives you a shot at the tasty game fish. The easiest fish to target are silver trout that school along our beaches. North of the Redington Pier, a piece of hard bottom holds large numbers of silver trout. Most anglers drift where they see schools marked on their bottom machine. Tandem rigs have two jigs and allow you to catch two at a time. Mix jig colors until you find the one the fish like best.

Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.

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