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This angry tropical season has stifled fishing in Tampa Bay. Over the past few weeks, copious amounts of rain and wind have turned area waters into a murky mess. Fishing is tough and collection of live bait even tougher.

The new hatch of scaled sardines remain puny from upper Tampa Bay to the Skyway. There are schools of bait on just about every grass flat. The only problem is the size. The good news is that they should grow rapidly in the next few weeks and be large enough to satisfy most of our area sport fish. Until then, artificial lures or live shrimp will be much easier to obtain and save a significant amount of time.

On fishable days, some anglers have managed to come up with some respectable catches of snook and redfish. Both species have been hanging around tributaries that feed into the bay.

Mangrove snapper are still cooperating nicely. There are many sheltered areas where anglers can get relief from the wind and stand a good chance of catching dinner. Medium sized spinning gear, spooled with one of the braided types of line for the backing, will offer an equitable battle.

Trout have become more prevalent on the flats. Lower water temperatures have activated the specks. Soft plastic jigs are a consistent lure for trout. They are widely availably at most tackle shops. Trout fishing will continue to improve steadily until mid winter.

Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 310-6531 or e-mail