Grocery Store Fishing: This is a great time of year to put some really great tasting fish on the table for dinner. While many of our normal target species start to slow down and eat less, there are a few that really get going as the water starts to cool. Pompano, sheepshead, and mangrove snapper are three of the best eating fish in our bay, and all of them have invaded our region in force. The great thing about this tasty trio is that they can all be targeted with similar tactics and often in the same spots.
Pompano: There have been good numbers of these tasty, tough fighting fish moving through our region. They have been responding well to a Doc's goofy jig or shrimp, and I have been seeing them on the range markers and artificial reefs in our region.
Mangos and Sheepies: We have been catching both from open water to a few miles up river. Oyster bars are a great place to fish for foraging sheepshead, especially on the higher parts of the tide as they move up the bar to feed. A fiddler crab on a tiny hook can be deadly on finicky fish. The mangroves are eating just about anything you put in front of their face, but a live shrimp or whitebait tops the list.
Tip: Shrimp on a jighead is probably one of the most productive and versatile baits this time of year. I tie a 3-foot piece of 15- to 20-pound fluorocarbon to a 1/16 to ⅛ ounce jighead. You can rig it from the tail, headless, or tip it with a small piece. All three of the above species along with all the other regulars can be caught using this rig.
Matt Santiago can be reached at (813) 205-2327, Captainmattsantiago@gmail.com and online at fishingguidetampa.com.