Summertime fishing in Tampa Bay can be a bit tricky. Extreme heat and rain water, add to the regular challenges of fishing. These factors change certain dynamics for our area, increasing the difficulty for consistent catches. There are other seasonal obstacles such as spawning bait fish, and hot water temperatures. Mangrove snapper are thick around areas of structure. They are tricky, but boy are they delicious. They love the hot water and will bite all season long. They usually cooperate even on the hottest days. Tarpon are all over Hillsborough Bay. I saw three fish roll from Bayshore Boulevard in the time it took to drive from Gandy Boulevard to Howard Avenue. The water is stained with tannins from recent heavy rains. Tannic acid resulting from decaying vegetation is responsible for the "tea" colored bay water. This makes navigation and flats fishing more difficult because of lack of visibility. Since the bait fish are horizontally challenged, the use of a small diameter mesh cast net will help prevent the small baits from getting "gilled." An old dip net that only has the wire frame left is a useful tool in this situation. Simply hold the ring of your cast net and swish in a downward motion over "gilled" fish with the dip net. They will tumble out of the cast net easily and are still good bait and chum. Concentrate on fishing in areas where the tide moves well for best results. The flats can be extremely difficult on summer days. Utilizing different species can help increase fish in the box and the fun factor on a hot day. The versatility of Tampa Bay is amazing and all options should be attempted often for greater diversity, and overall knowledge of our waters.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 310-6531 or visit fishontampabay.com/captains.aspx.