August can be tricky for consistent catches. Hot water, hot air and floating sea grasses and moss all contribute to the difficulty. With some extra patience, and slightly different tactics, anglers can catch plenty of fish right now in Tampa Bay.
What's hot: Spanish mackerel can be found in the shipping channel from Ruskin to Port Manatee. A few days ago, fish were coming to the surface and blasting the daylights out of baitfish. The schools were an acre in size and would periodically surface. The fish eagerly accepted any offering in their general direction. Mangrove snapper are cooperative as well.
Tip: Snapper have keen eyesight and can be surprisingly clever. Use the lightest leader material that conditions allow. The fish are especially tricky to detect when they thump an offering. You generally will get only one chance before they swim away just a bit heavier and leaving only an empty hook. They are called snapper for a reason — they're one of the angriest fish after capture.
Tackle: Medium spinning equipment is typically adequate. Use heavier tackle offshore or around structure such as area bridges and artificial reefs. A large split shot of small egg sinker usually is enough to sink a live sardine or shrimp to the structure.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at snookfish.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 310-6531.