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Take your pick in Tampa Bay

Published Sep. 2, 2005

The fishing in Tampa Bay has been outstanding. Before a recent front, area waters were full of snook, redfish, trout, sheepshead and cobia. High winds and dirty water will slow the action for a few days, but conditions should improve by Sunday.

Snook are thickest on the east side of Tampa Bay. Cockroach Bay, Bishop Harbor and Terra Ceia are holding large schools. A well full of white bait will enable you to chum the snook into eating. It might take a few hundred chummed baits before they really turn on. Jigs and gold spoons work on some days, but the live baits rule.

Redfish are moving across the flats during the incoming tide. Most of the schools are hanging with mullet. Corked live bait or a gold spoon work equally well. Trout are running in the 1- to 3-pound range with most being caught on slug jigs. The really big trout are north of Dunedin. Work jigs or live bait over the flats and near the spoil islands.

Sheepshead are loaded up in the passes. Diced fresh shrimp tossed around the pilings will ring their dinner bell.

Cobia are starting to show up as they move their way up the coast. Most of the fish are just off the beach from Egmont to Longboat keys. Look for large schools and pairs in clear water. A free-lined threadfin worked in front of the cruising fish will draw the most strikes. Cobia can run from 10 to 70 pounds, so have the right tackle.

_ Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.