Avoid murky water and you'll catch fish
GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of the local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Frank Sargeant. Despite murky water from rain and winds, the snook bite turned on after the storm, captain Ray Markham reported from the south end of Tampa Bay. "Redfish moved around but were found in back bays where the shelter of mangroves kept the winds from making a mess of the water," Markham said. "Snook and redfish were both found in these areas."With so much rainfall, tannin-stained water conditions exist in many areas from Sarasota to Hernando Beach. Water temperatures cooled down in the process as well, turning on speckled trout. Early morning topwater fishing has produced some excellent catches of fish. Everything from snook, trout and redfish, to bluefish and ladyfish were caught in back bays. Flounder are being caught on channel edges on the sand and in sandy potholes on the flats with jigs and shrimp. Both live and artificial shrimp will work." For more, visit Markham's website at www.captainraymarkham.com. Off the beaches, it's a matter of moving west until you see green water. The big outflow of fresh water from the storm, plus mud churned up on the beaches, makes fishing in close futile. It's likely to take a week or more for things to get back to normal, but when they do the mangrove snapper bite should be a good bet. The biggest fish hang on the channel edges in Tampa Bay, at depths of 40 feet or more — drop a live sardine down to them, with 3 to 4 ounces of weight to keep the bait where they live. Egmont Channel a mile or so on either side of the Skyway is a prime snapper area. The big rains and wind stirred up the bottom in many freshwater lakes, and murky water makes for slow fishing. However, the runoff coming in from rivers, creeks and drainage culverts are all prime spots to find largemouths feeding, as long as the flow continues. Areas below the dams on the Kissimmee River Chain are often particularly hot after a big storm — heavily weighted worms or big, diving crankbaits fished in eddies of the fast water do the job. A final note: Though snook season opens Saturday on the east coast, it does not open at all this year on the west coast as regulators give the fish a chance to recover from the cold kill of 2010.
Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.