Rainfall from rainfall: Recent heavy rainfall has parts of upper Tampa Bay looking like a glass of hot tea. The rivers are flowing heavily from a record-setting wet summer, pushing a lot of fresh water 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. Mangrove snapper and redfish are the most cooperative species right now. On a recent trip, both species 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. Once again, the redfish have become much more active. They are all the way from Pendola Point to Ruskin despite the "iced tea" color to the water.
Science: It is actually the decaying vegetation up river that gives the water its "tea" look. Tannic acid is the by-product of plant decomposition also responsible for the amber color. It becomes really noticeable in the bay when it rains heavy for several days in a row.
Seasonal: For the frugal angler without a proper bimini top, or any way to have shade on the boat, a makeshift instant "T" top can be deployed. The picnic table-type 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.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa Bay and can be reached at (813) 310-6531 or fishontampabay.com/captains.aspx