Determining the best time to fish an area has a lot to do with tidal flow, moon phases and abundance of bait. You could have one or two of these working for you and still catch fish but when everything lines up right, watch out. Offshore anglers opinions vary about which tidal flow causes the best bite. Water enters the gulf from the Yucatan in the form of what is called the Loop Current or Gulf Stream. This river flows north offshore the coast of Texas, turns in the offshore waters of Louisiana, then continues across the northern gulf, finally dropping well offshore the west coast of Florida. As this current runs by us, many small tidal currents can and do spawn off, sending water spinning in different directions, sometimes as close as 60 miles from Pinellas County. These currents bring with them nutrients that help get both pelagic and bottom species on the feed. Full and new moon phases traditionally produce slower fishing for bottom species and can fire off the bite for pelagics. Many think this is due to a stronger current that these phases produce. Digging a bit deeper into "moon magic" you find that fish tend to feed much better on a rising moon versus a falling moon. There are many apps you can use to take advantage of knowing when the fish will be on the feed. When cleaning fish, I always examine what they are feeding on. Fish such as grouper in shallower water tend to eat grunts, crabs and squirrelfish, while in offshore waters I see Spanish sardines, vermillion snapper and tomtates. Determining what fish are eating in different areas will help determine what baits to use while targeting certain species in those areas.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.