Copious amounts of rain and stifling heat have made conditions somewhat tough in Tampa Bay. Brutal afternoons are a good reason to start early to beat the lightning and or heat exhaustion. Most game fish are active until it gets really hot outside.
What's hot: This is one of the best snapper summers in recent history. Almost any piece of structure whether it be rocks or piling configurations, have good numbers. Mangrove snapper like strong water flow and are especially clever. They are plentiful on the edges of the shipping channel that leads to Port Manatee. Also, the area bridge supports hold nice "mangs."
Tip: Snapper have keen eyesight and a brain that they use. Therefore, smaller hooks and extra bait are required. Going after these fish can be a bit frustrating because they steal baits at will. The lightest tackle for the conditions at hand is the most productive for consistent catches. Medium live shrimp or small greenbacks are candy to snapper. They also like fiddler crabs.
Summer options: On the slick calm days this time of year cobia are free swimming or often circling range and channel markers. They are easy to spot and will usually blast a live offering presented a few feet in front of them.
Caution: Cobia are famous for their on board shenanigans. They go ballistic after capture, so to stay out of the way for a while. Cobia are famous for a second, third and sometimes a fourth wind when captured.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 310-6531 or visit fishontampabay.com/captains.aspx.