Conditions: Summertime fishing can be tricky. When large amounts of freshwater flow into the bay after storms, this changes certain dynamics, increasing the difficulty for consistent catches. There are other obstacles to regular catches as well, such as spawning baitfish and hot tub-like water temperatures. Baitfish that were easily netted a few weeks ago are scarce on the flats. The sardines that are there are a bit puny and require a much smaller hook than normal to be effective.
What's hot: Spanish mackerel are still here but moving farther south as there is so much freshwater here. Spanish mackerel typically like clear salty water. Patient anglers can still catch them around range markers or deep grass flats with good water flow.
Tip: Since the baitfish are small, use a small-diameter mesh cast net to prevent these little baits from getting "gilled." An old dip net that only has the wire frame left is useful in this situation. Simply hold the ring of your cast net and swish the wire loop in a downward motion over "gilled" fish. They will tumble out of the net and can be used for bait and/or chum. Fish areas where the tide moves well.
Notable catch: A bonefish was caught near Weedon Island last week, falling for a live shrimp. The versatility of Tampa Bay is amazing.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 310-6531, email [email protected] or visit snookfish.com.