Fall’s versatile changes in weather is providing cool breezes and hot fishing throughout Tampa bay. We’ve been catching a bunch of Flounder on recent charters. Flounders tend to frequent the areas where you find Snook in the summertime. Sandy bottom inlets around rock jetties, bridges, and other structure hold a decent number of these funny looking fish. The biggest flounder are structure oriented; however, you can catch a ton of flounder out in the open bay away from bridges and pilings. As long as there is fast current and a strong food source, there’s flounder around. Flounders eat shrimp, greenbacks, creek chubs, and just about anything that swims and is big enough to fit in their mouth. Here’s Avery from Texas with her first Flounder!
Mangrove Snapper fishing is hot. The faster the current, and bigger the bait schools, the more snapper bites. Just like black drum and Sheepshead they feed right up along the bridge pilings, and underwater structures. Fishing at night around the full moon has provided a red hot bite. If you find them in the daytime in a specific area, go back and fish it at night around the full moon and they bite Ferociously.
Sheepshead will begin spawning these next months and there will be schools of these fish by the thousands around bay area bridges, marinas, and grass flats. The easiest way to catch a lot of Sheepshead is to scrape the pilings on bridges during the daytime, and fish with fiddler crabs.
Speckled Trout are still feeding on grass flats in the bay. It’s easiest to catch them while drifting on a higher tide in 4FT+ over grass. On low tides, they will be stuffed in the potholes, in certain channels, and around creek mouths. On our past few charters we have had super low tides so we’ve been fishing deep holes and finding a handful of Speckled Trout, Flounder, and Bonnethead sharks.
Sharks are still feeding throughout the entire Tampa bay area. Chumming and soaking dead baits on the bottom is how we catch them consistently. Right now there are plenty of Bonnethead sharks throughout Tampa bay, and they eat just about anything that’s dead and on the bottom. Typically, deep water areas near large grass flats will have Bonnethead sharks. We are catching anywhere from 2-5 Bonnetheads on our charters lately while targeting other species. Stingrays are a by catch when both shark and flounder fishing, and you may get the occasional sail cat or big catfish.
Black Tip sharks are being caught off of the beach if you are anywhere near mackerel schools, the black tips are nearby. If you’re on a drift and catching mackerel on jigs, cut chunks of a mackerel and weight them to the bottom. Greenbacks work well too, just make sure you cut them in half or at least cut off the tails to give them scent, and keep them from spinning in the current. This isn’t the traditional way of shark fishing, but you can certainly pick up a few sharks by doing this if you keep the bait on the bottom, with the rods in the rod holder; furthermore, Anchoring and chumming an area with lots of Mackerel and baitfish is extremely effective. Typically wherever there are big schools of bait, there are big schools of sharks. If you want to learn more about sharks, flounder, snook, or any other species you’ll have to either wait for my next report, seminar, or call and book a trip for the real-life experience.
Capt Jesse Nofi – 727.253.9913