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Our recent fishing charters on Tampa Bay have been fair to excellent over the last month and things are really about to heat up.  We have been fishing from the Skyway Bridge and Fort DeSoto all the way up in the bay to the Gandy Bridge. The redfish and trout fishing have been good, but it’s the snook action that has really stolen the stage lately. We have caught many snook over 30 inches lately, and lost some even bigger ones to the bushes and docks.

Offshore the fishing has been great and the cooler water temps. mean that we don’t need to run as far out to get on some great fish.  With some of the grouper and snapper closures we are experiencing right now, the amberjack and mangrove snapper have taken center stage.  Amberjack or as we like to call them “Reef Donkeys” are a blast to catch, especially on medium action tackle and are excellent table fare when grilled.

Can anyone say fish sandwiches!

If you are getting out on your own, here are a few tips to get you on the fish and get them in the boat.

“Fish the Funnels”
In Tampa Bay, we have tons of what I like to call “Fish Funnels”.   Fish Funnels are where small estuaries, bays, or creeks dump out into the open bay or a flat through two islands or pieces of land.  If you don’t know where these places are, a few minutes looking online on Google Earth will reveal more than you can fish in a week.   These are great places to target this time of year to begin with, and their potential only increases on strong tides.  These funnels create deep water troughs, hold bait, and create eddies and rips that gamefish use as ambush points.

The snook are really starting to stack up from Cockroach Bay south past Bishops Harbor.  Fishing areas where the water is clearer has produced better results.  Remember, if you’re fishing live bait, send out some chummers to really get them in the mood to eat.

The redfish in our region have not been consistently schooled up, they are still here in good numbers and ready to eat.  The key to having success with redfish has been to get up skinny.  A lot of the redfish that we have been catching have been on the inside of the bars that line the south shore of the bay, and many of them have been just feet off the banks.  They have also been responding well to artificials.  Throwing a light colored soft plastic body on a 1/8 ounce jig head has been producing great results on redfish and big trout as well.

This is one of my favorite times of the year to get out of the boat and do some wade fishing.  Wade fishing allows you to get much closer to fish than you could in a boat and offers a really unique perspective on the whole fish catching experience.   Make sure you have on a quality pair of waders or wading booties to protect you from stingrays, oysters, etc.  I prefer to throw artificials and cover as much water as possible when I wade, but a bucket full of live bait works well too.  When you are planning to wade, pick an area that will allow you to cast down wind and preferably work your baits with the flow of the current.  Call me to set up your own wade fishing adventure, it is a trip you won’t soon forget and a guaranteed way to catch some great fish.

Fishing Charters in Tampa are a great way to get out on the water and spend time with family and friends.

Till next time….Be safe on the water and take a kid fishing!

Captain Matt Santiago