The best action in lower Tampa Bay continues to be trout and bluefish. The first thing to do before fishing is keep track of the tide and weather. Extreme low tides will concentrate the trout and bluefish along the dropoff of a flat. The blues and smaller trout will be in the 3- to 4-foot range. The larger trout want to stay closer to the dropoff. They like to hang in the 1- to 2-foot range to avoid being stalked by dolphin. You won't find large numbers of trout in the shallow water, but you will have a shot at one that's more than 20 inches. Weather is a big factor when it comes to tides. Strong winds out of the north push more water out of the bay and turn a normal low tide into one that's extreme. South winds make a low tide higher than the tide chart predicted. Topwater plugs, jigs and corked shrimp are hot baits in the lower part of the bay. Work the plugs along the drop early in the day. When action slows, switch to a jig or shrimp and work the water that's 3- to 4-feet deep. Productive jig colors are strawberry, motor oil and white. When water is clear, I use motor oil. The rest of the time I use strawberry. Small jigs work well, but you might find the larger slugger jigs and jerk baits catch bigger fish. Keeping your line test under 15 pounds and your leaders under 25 increases the strike ratio.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.