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By DAVE WALKER, Times Correspondent
Published September 9, 2007
What's hot: September is one of the most exciting times to fish in Tampa Bay. Many species are cooperating.
Recent rainfall in old Tampa Bay has lowered the water temperatures on the flats. A few weeks ago, it was in the 90's. Now temperatures are at least close to seasonal norms.
Fish that prowl the shallows, such as redfish and snook, will steadily increase in numbers.
Redfish are marauding oyster mounds and adjacent flats. On a recent trip, we were able to watch as a large school of reds came marching down the mangrove shoreline. After being intercepted with chum of crippled sardines, it was on. The reds hung around and steadily chewed until it was time to flee from an approaching thunderstorm. Most were over the slot limit. A 30-something-inch redfish usually makes a long initial run and fights like a bulldozer.
Tactics: Live offerings seem to be the best producers. But for anglers who like artificial lures, the early morning or late afternoon is best. Reds will crush top-water plugs with incredible ferocity. Since their mouths are turned down it often takes them a try or two before nailing their target. Keep the same retrieve going. If you stop or change speed, the fish will often lose interest.
The live baits of choice would be live greenbacks, shrimp or small pinfish. A standard float rig is usually the most forgiving setup for shallow water reds. Since most live baits now are relatively small, the use of the weighted types of floats will allow longer casts.
Snook will continue to thicken as we progress to fall. Since many snook over 27 inches have been caught at least once, they are fairly clever fish. A stealth approach and the use of the lightest leader material permissible by the conditions will equate to more catches. Be sure and check the current regulations because they have changed since last year.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at www.snookfish.com or (813) 310-6531.
For today's tides chart, see the weather package on 2A, or online at outdoors.tampabay.com.