Summer fishing in Tampa Bay can be tricky. Extreme heat and rain change dynamics, increasing the difficulty for consistent catches. There are other seasonal obstacles as well, such as spawning baitfish and hot-tub-like water temperatures.
What's hot: Mangrove snapper are thick around areas of structure. This has been a great summer for "mangs." They are tricky fish, but boy, are they delicious. They love hot water and will bite all season long.
Tip: Good-sized live bait has been difficult to obtain. It is spawning season for scaled sardines, meaning a new batch of little ones. The use of a small-diameter mesh cast net helps prevent small baits from getting "gilled." An old dip net that has only its wire frame is a useful tool. Hold the ring of your cast net and swish in a downward motion over "gilled" fish with the dip net. The fish will tumble out of the cast net easily and are still good bait and chum.
Timely: Concentrate on areas where the tide moves well for best results. The flats can be extremely difficult on summer days. Utilizing different species can help increase fish in the box and the fun on a hot day. The versatility of Tampa Bay is impressive, and all options should be tried at least once for greater diversity and overall knowledge of the water.
Captain Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at (813) 310-6531 fishontampabay.com/captains.aspx.