What's hot: Most of our trips start before daylight, fishing lighted docks then the flats. But as the sun rises and temperatures get uncomfortable for shallow-water game fish, we head for the closest pass. Strong tides lately have been key to a reliable bite. Pompano have been the primary target, but on our last charter two clients caught more than 13 varieties of fish. Positioning my flats boat on the channel edge in about 15 feet of water, I use the electric motor to maintain depth as the tide helps give a controlled drift.
Think small: The -1/8-ounce bullet-shaped jigs with synthetic tails tied with a loop knot to 15-pound fluorocarbon attached to 10-pound Power Pro allow you to feel the slightest bite. White and chartreuse have been best. Tip with a small piece of Gulp Shrimp thatadds scent and stays on the hook. Bounce the jig on the bottom, often fishing vertically. Set the hook at the slightest "tap." Sea robins, speckled trout, mangrove snapper, ladyfish, small sharks, pompano, grouper and rays have put a bend in our light spinning tackle.
Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com or (727) 504-8649.