Storm report: Debby did a number on the east side of the bay. The storm mucked up everything from Tampa Bay south to Estero Bay and even farther south. The dark waters from the creeks and rivers had visibility near zero. The beaches and passes look akin to a glass of milk. The good news is with the full moon tides preceding this report, the bay should be much cleaner by the weekend.
Spot work: The dirty water makes fishing tough, but if you found the right spot just far enough away from the creek and river mouths, and just far enough away from the pass, it was game on. Reds and snook cooperated well using dark colored soft plastics. Even top water plugs in dark patterns were scoring a wicked strike by the snook and redfish.
Bait: With bait all but gone in most of the usual haunts the artificials have saved the day on several of my latest trips. That said, a slow presentation and an early start are on the menu heading into the dog days of summer.
Heat index: A way to beat the midday heat is to stick a beach umbrella in one of the rod holders and deploy some cut mullet into mullet schools. This is an excellent way to relax and still catch some nice redfish or snook. Who knows? Maybe the elusive spiny-finned catfish will surface as well.
Capt. Tim Whitfield can be reached at (813) 744-0889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.