Tea time. Recent heavy rainfall has Hillsborough Bay looking like a glass of hot tea. The rivers are flowing at nearly flood levels, pushing a lot of freshwater into Tampa Bay. This is not a bad thing because some species love the heat relief that the rivers and creeks offer.
What's hot. Yes it is blazing hot outside, but some areas are quite productive right now. On a recent trip in downtown Tampa, we smashed a nice batch of large mangrove snapper and even a few wayward mackerel, right there in the middle of the skyscrapers. They nailed shrimp and live sardines like they were going out of style. Their size was impressive, especially for the area.
Tip. Fishing in stained water requires versatility when fishing with artificial lures. Colors look different to fish at different depths. This is especially true when the water has that "river" colored look. Try an array of color schemes until you establish a pattern, then stick with it. It is actually the decaying vegetation up river that gives the water its "tea" look. Tannic acid is the byproduct of plant decomposition also responsible for the amber color. It becomes really noticeable in the bay when it rains heavily for several days in a row.
Seasonal. For the frugal angler without a proper bimini top, or any way to have shade, a makeshift instant "T" top can be deployed. The picnic-table-style umbrellas will fit into most rod holders and can be easily put up and down for travel quickly. It might not be fancy, but who really cares about fancy when faced with the decision to roast in the direct sun or stay relatively cool in the shade? Personally, I'll take the shade option every time.
Captain Dave Walker charters out of Tampa Bay and can be reached at (813) 310-6531.