What's hot:Water temps are lowering and fish are hungry inshore and offshore. Snook have left the beaches and ventured inside. Redfish have bunched up and are feeding heavy on the small, plentiful bait inshore. Spanish mackerel, bonita and jacks are tearing up open water in the bay and just off the beach, along with a few kings farther offshore. Tarpon have made a strong return from spawning; they also are eating anything offered, with many reports of artificial baits used inside Tampa Bay.
Techniques: Find the bait pods that are active with birds diving and fish churning up the water, and toss out anything shinny for some mackerel, bonita, ladyfish and a possible small kingfish. With mangrove points and oyster bars holding reds and snook, fish the first of the outgoing tides. Tarpon at the bridges throughout the bay area eat just about anything.
Tips: Light wire leaders for mackerel and kings, fluorocarbon for everything else. Snook are on the deep side of mangrove points, mostly on the shady side, and reds are still spooky. Once they get into their large pods, they become less so. Toss a scented soft plastic or live bait where you think the pod is going to swim rather than at the pod.
Jackie Otto can be reached at email@example.com or Betts Fishing Center at (727) 518-7637.