Our ever-changing forecast will determine if we can get offshore this week, as a tropical system is expected to bring torrential downpours and storm surge to the Tampa Bay area. Thick cloud cover and some rain may help to cool the surface temperature of the Gulf and the bay. But too much rain will change sea conditions and salinity, factors that may slow the bite until it recovers to a tolerable level for the fish. This summer season has been fairly void of Spanish mackerel. However, in the past couple weeks there have been a slight increase in the number of mackerel. Our hope is that rain won't chase them away again. With the mackerel come the sharks. Along the beaches some of the surf-anglers have landed several rather large sharks. While the beach towns discourage fishing for sharks from shore, that often doesn't stop those who love this challenging sport. Because of the wind, fishing close to shore may become a necessity. Brisk east winds make for rough conditions farther offshore, but close to shore you can find calmer seas. Catching keeper grouper is a challenge no matter what depth you try, and it's more of a task in close. However, there have been some good catches for those that are confined to depths of less than 30 feet. Surprisingly decent-sized grunts and a few grouper are in the shallow stuff.
Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit captainlarryblue.com.