What's hot: Inshore fishing has been good for bay tarpon and bull sharks. Targeting 10- to 15-foot deep dredge areas near upper Tampa Bay bridges can be excellent for both. Light winds make for perfect conditions when looking for rolling tarpon. Ease your way with the trolling motor on low speed, then either cast artificial lures such as slow sinking plugs or broadcast a spread of fresh dead bait such as mullet and shad. The latter will also attract the occasional 4- to 6-foot bull shark, so use a trace of wire.
Offshore: Shallow water gag grouper fishing remains good in depths as shallow as 30 feet. Live pinfish and frozen sardines are a great 1-2 punch. If the fish aren't very active or not where you anchor, the scent and activity created by the smaller fish picking at the sardine will draw the gags, then dropping the pinfish should entice larger fish.
What else: Bridges offer refuge from the heat and rain. Their shadow lines night and day make excellent ambush points for big predatory fish such as tarpon and cobia and their adjacent structures attract bottom dwellers such as snapper, flounder and pompano. The bottom line is, bridge fishing can be a productive way to put a few fish in the cooler while staying cool and dry.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email [email protected]