By DOUG HEMMER
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 3, 2001
The large schools of threadfin herring and scaled sardines that hang in lower Tampa Bay are all but gone. Schools of juvenile offspring have replaced the larger baits.
Juvenile baits are better for finding game fish than catching them. Some schools have sharks and mackerel working the edges. Others will hold tarpon or cobia.
Look for bird activity in the ship channel and along the beach. The birds are easier to find than a brown spot on the water.
Pinfish are my No. 1 bait. A few throws of the net provide ammo to target grouper, snook, reds, tarpon, cobia and trout. We use the small ones for reds and trout. Fish under a cork in the middle of a school of mullet. The big pins get free-lined for the tarpon, snook and cobia. Grouper should be offered a big pin only after they have chewed on a box of frozen bait.
Fly-fishing is great. When the area gets flooded with small fry it's time to break out the fly gear. Work the bait schools using a white bait imitation. The schools that have surface activity will be the most productive. When the mackerel show switch to a 40-pound mono leader and strip twice as fast as usual.
Crystal shrimp works best in the lights at night. Snook, trout and reds are being fooled into striking when stripped with the current. Present only the fly and leader. Mangrove snapper fishing should be hot this weekend. Look for activity to increase at night around the full moon. A well full of whitebait or sardines should score big time. Other baits like small pins and shrimp are a substitute. Keep the rigs at 20-pound test and the leaders light. Try the reefs and rock pile in Tampa Bay or the gulf. Chumming will bring the snapper right to your boat Anchor up-current to allow chum fall in the right place. We are having a great run of snapper.
Gulf pier action should be good in the morning.
Look for this week's action during the outgoing tide.
- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.