We are blessed with miles of productive shallow water fishing in the Tampa Bay area. I often hear fly fishermen say, "I blind cast with spinning gear with a lure so I can cover more water. Once fish are located, I switch to my fly rod." Blind casting with any gear is not productive unless each cast with either fly or spin gear is directed to a spot that likely holds fish. Once enough clear water covers the grass flat, look for your target. Diving birds are feeding on baitfish, dimples that look like rainfall indicate baitfish, small bright flashes can be baitfish, concentrations of feeding birds in the shallows show where gamefish will soon be foraging, scattering baitfish are often running from snook, trout and reds; tails poking out of the water indicate feeding redfish or sheepshead. Size 4 baitfish patterns will duplicate the small food available and allow you to cover more water. Lengthening your leader to 12 feet with a lighter tippet may be needed to add to your stealth, which is always necessary. Bead chain eyes rather than lead or tungsten dumbbell eyes on a fly will land on the water with minimum disturbance and keep the fly properly oriented. Fly patterns with the hook pointed up will avoid snags and weeds. 10 percent of the fishermen catch 90 percent of the fish because they are fishing where the highest concentration of their quarry lives.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com or (727) 504-8649.