Daily fishing report

Published March 24, 2005

Early signs of red tide are starting to show up on the west side of lower Tampa Bay. The first indicators were the turkey buzzards perched along the shoreline. They will move into the area to feed on dead fish that wash up on the beach.

Small bait fish flipping on the water surface provide another hint. They are the first to react to even the smallest amount of red tide. Seagulls and terns can be seen feeding on the baits that flip out of the water.

Large trout that normally hang in the area are conspicuously lacking. Most trout caught have been less than 14 inches. Larger trout are able to swim out of the infected area toward cleaner water.

With this in mind, we started working the dropoffs northwest of Tampa Bay. The farther north we moved, the larger the trout. Areas that only a week ago held few trout were now loaded. We caught 70 in the 14- to 23-inch range. They were striking at motor oil and strawberry jerk baits dragged over the grass piles that lay in three to four feet of water.

We have had a hard time getting redfish to take the bait. Perhaps the red tide is to blame. The outbreak could be minimal, but it's not a good sign.

Should the wind continue out of the south or southeast, expect the bloom to increase. Look for large numbers of floating dead fish. If this does happen, fishing in the lower part of the bay will deteriorate.

Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.