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Landlubber | Rick Frazier

Landlubber: Wade to drop-offs for big rewards

Sarah Parker of Tierra Verde holds a large speckled trout she caught in Tampa Bay on July 14 using a whitebait under a float.

RICK FRAZIER | Special to the Times

Sarah Parker of Tierra Verde holds a large speckled trout she caught in Tampa Bay on July 14 using a whitebait under a float.

Even as the water temperature reaches the upper 80s, fish are still active and willing to bite.

Speckled trout action is hot early in the morning when the sun is still low in the sky.

Surprisingly, even big yellow-mouth gator trout are willing participants this summer. Right now, it's not unusual to catch your limit of "specks" as long as you have a few tricks up your sleeve.

One is to target the deep drop-off areas of the grass flats instead of being up on the flat itself. The water at the drop-off will have a little better flow and be a tad cooler since it is deeper.

If you like to use artificial lures for trout, then throw a surface walker such as MirrOlure Top Dog or the old standby, the Zara Spook. Try natural color patterns with these lures, but don't overlook the Tampa Bay favorite red head and white body.

Light, one-eighth-ounce jigs or lighter, dressed with one of those stinky tails such as the Assassin Blurp or Berkley Gulp, will work for these summer trout, too. Remember to keep the jig in contact with the bottom by creeping it along, creating small puffs of sand. Try the new penny or shiny penny color pattern.

Trout will not overlook a corked whitebait or shrimp. Just be prepared to go through a ton because the pinfish are ravenous, and you will have to weed through them to get the trout.

Mangrove snapper haven't been affected by the heat, and they're abundant now. Beach feeder bridges and local piers are favorite hangouts.

Use a live bait snapper rig, which is just a double-drop rig, to get your limit. Apply the lightest weight possible on your rig to keep the bait in contact with the bottom. Try to target both sides of the tide change because the current will be the slowest and it will be easier to keep your bait down.

Small whitebait is the best bet for mangrove snapper if you can get them. If not, live shrimp will work, too. Cut squid is a last resort if the other two are impossible to get.

Catch-and-release snook is at its peak. One of the best places now is Clearwater's Pier 60. Go after sunset and work the pier light shadows with a free-lined pinfish, greenback, grunt, or scaled sardine.

If you're looking for a little more subdued snook action, walk the beach and work the trough with a gold spoon or suspending twitchbait.

Another summertime favorite is cobia. They are being caught off the Skyway piers. Look for them swimming around the pilings and scattering the greenbacks. Put your pinfish or greenback offering right in front of their nose. Be prepared for a 20-minute fight and have a buddy ready with a hoop net to bring it over the rail.

Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 510-4376. If you've had a great day fishing from land and want to share it with readers, contact the lubberline at (727) 893-8775 or e-mail [email protected]

Landlubber: Wade to drop-offs for big rewards 07/31/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 31, 2008 4:30am]
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