Oppressive heat and high water temperatures have complicated fishing in Tampa Bay. Stir an afternoon thunderstorm or two into the mix, and it completes a recipe for tough fishing.
What's hot: Those who have endured sunburns and near heat exhaustion have been rewarded with decent catches of snapper. Mangrove snapper are eating the new hatch of sardines as well as regular-sized shrimp. Range markers are a favorite hangout for snapper and other species. The braided types of line are particularly useful when fishing these locations or snapper hangouts in general.
Tactics: Mangrove snapper are scrappy fighters and can rip drag in most battles. Set the hook upon the first indication of a strike because these snapper are expert bait stealers. The first "tap" is usually the only chance you'll get. The second tap is them swimming away from a cleaned hook.
Tip: Slick surface conditions still prevail and offer anglers great opportunity to spot feeding or cruising fish. Recently we saw several schools of mackerel, ladyfish and jack all blasting the surface in a frenzy. It's a good idea to look for cobia when it's glassy. They can save the day when fishing is slow for other species. Smooth waters enable anglers to spot fish on the surface for hundreds of yards.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 310-6531, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit snookfish.com.