Sunday, January 21, 2018
Outdoors

East bay fishing report: What's bitting; hits and misses

Back to life. Fishing in the Tampa Bay area continues to improve after the setback we took from Tropical Storm Debby. We have gotten back to normal after the deluge we received from five days of rain.

Bite marks. The strongest bite for me has been the snook, trout and Spanish mackerel. I have been doing most of my fishing in the passes or out on the edges of the deeper grass flats.

Bait. The bait that has had the best results has been scaled sardines. They have already gone through their spawn, so you may end up with a bait well full of smaller baits, but if used under a float, they can be cast as good as the bigger baits. I did have a day that most of our fish were caught on pinfish, but that has not been the norm. If you are grouper digging then I would definitely say get as many pinfish as you can before you start dropping hooks. Gag grouper season is open, and pinfish are a hard bait to beat while fishing for them.

Hits and misses. We have gone after sharks and tarpon recently with good success with the sharks but limited success on the silver kings. The fish that has pulled the disappearing act on me has been the redfish. Before Debby, we were catching several nice reds on every trip, but since the storm I have only caught a few. We hope they will get back into their pattern and that bite will improve.

Don't give up. One of the things that a major weather change does is shuffle the deck and adds a challenge to the sport of fishing. As a captain I enjoy trying to piece the puzzle back together and get a bite going. I don't think we as anglers ever have the upper hand, but we certainly can improve our success and limit our failure. The best time to go fishing is when you can.

Ric Liles fishes out of Tampa, Ruskin, Bradenton and the surrounding areas, and can be reached (813) 601-2900, via email at [email protected] or at ReelSimpleFishing.com.

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