What's hot: One of the best ways to cool off in July and August is to go scalloping. It's like going on a giant underwater Easter egg hunt with a bag of tasty scallops to cook up at the end of the day.
A popular place to scallop is Homosassa in 2 feet of water out to 12 feet with the average depth being 3-6 feet, which is what most people dive in. What I look for when I go scalloping is a sea grass bed with sand holes. You also want to look for the shorter, thinner grass that grows in the sand. Another way is fishing the bay area bridges — such as the Gandy — underneath in the shade for snapper or big sea trout and a variety of other species. The best bait is small whitebait or shrimp rigged on a 20-pound leader with a 1/0 circle hook.
Another great place to fish is the Howard Frankland Bridge. It not only holds a lot of the same fish as the Gandy, but it is known as one of the best black drum spots in Tampa Bay in the summer. The best bait is a blue crab cut in half with a 40-pound leader and a 4/0 circle hook with just enough weight to keep it next to the pilings.
Tip: Anyone can do this: All you need is a mask, snorkel, fins and a catch bag to put your scallops in. If you look at the tides and dive the last part of the outgoing tide and the first part of the incoming tide, you can hit those deeper spots.
Jim Lemke charters out of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater and can be reached at (813) 917-4989 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.