Water temperatures are starting to drop just a bit, and the days are getting shorter by a minute or so daily. We are rapidly approaching a great time of the year to be an angler in our area. King and Spanish mackerel are starting to show in good numbers and have been quite cooperative, and the redfish bite has been spectacular. Redfish are swarming the flats, and are holding in nice schools. Multiple catches of slot reds have been reported from upper Tampa Bay to Ruskin. Large aggregations of them can be found with a bit of persistence and patience. Most fish being caught are keepers if desired. The limit is one per person per day, with the minimum length being 18 inches to a maximum length of 27 inches with the tail pinched. Cut bait fished on the bottom proved deadly the last few outings. We tore our baits in half and put a small split shot to weight it slightly. Our smelly offerings out produced the live bait that was swimming in the same area. It wasn't even close. The dead stuff outperformed the live "greenbacks." Pick a day with a big high tide and look for the large groups of mullet. It is almost a guarantee that the reds will be meandering right there in the middle of all of the mullet, and are usually eager for a free offering. Mangrove shorelines adjacent to oyster mounds are a favorite hangout for early fall reds. Kingfish are scrumptious in the smokehouse or on the grill. Twice a year we get the migration of the seasonal pelagic fishes. They are just starting to show up but should be here in droves in the next few weeks. The weather is nice, and sea critters are hungry. It's just a good time to go fishing.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 310-6531 or visit fishontampabay.com/captains.aspx.