What's hot: An inshore grand slam (trout, snook and redfish) is a challenge for fly fishermen. There is one location this time of year that nearly always will assure success — casting baitfish imitations around lighted docks at night. The abundance of baitfish in Tampa Bay and surrounding waters has never been better. The light draws plankton, the primary food of baitfish. The schools bring in the opportunistic trout, snook and redfish, as well as jacks, ladyfish, snapper and occasionally small tarpon.
How to prepare: Pick a good moving tide and fish areas you are familiar with in the daytime. Darkness has a way of distorting landmarks and distance. Pre-rig fly rods with 30-pound fluorocarbon shock tippets and flies the size and color of the available forage. Snook especially can be size specific when selecting their food. My most recent success has been with a pattern called Mushmouth. Softex, a clear flexible coating, is incorporated into the pattern as it is tied, producing a fly that will not foul while casting. Other patterns such as Lefty's Deceiver and EP fiber high ties also are suitable. Flies that are predominately white succeed at night.
Stealth is key: Long, accurate casts are required in most locations. Work the outside shaded areas before hitting the light, where most fish will be visible. The fly should lightly touch the water, and have good line control so you can strip immediately when it hits the surface. Use your electric motor to move away from the structure when a large fish is hooked.
Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com or (727) 504-8649.