Plenty of snook, trout are in Tampa Bay area
GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Frank Sargeant. Captain Pat Damico, a noted fly-fishing guide in the Bay area, reported plenty of snook schooling at river mouths in Tampa Bay and all along the southwest coast, plus night snook around docks close to ICW passes. Damico also noted big trout moving into St. Joseph Sound, with the lunkers around the spoil islands as usual at this time of year, and smaller fish over the deep grass. Damico suggested working sunny shorelines in the afternoon, fishing very shallow for large trout "sunning" at depths of a foot or less. He likes small white or chartreuse streamers in clear water, gold or yellow in tannin stain; www.captpat.com.Captain Scott Moore reported from Anna Maria that the past week of strong winds has kept most anglers off the water and likely muddied beach and exposed areas, but that cooler temperatures have killed off the summer algae and cleared the water in protected areas. "I'm seeing a lot of snook in the canals," Moore said. "We're starting to catch a lot of fish 18 to 24 inches long, which are the new spawns from after the big cold kills a few years back. I think the closed season is doing a lot of good in bringing the fish back fast." He said mackerel, kings and bonito had been hot off the beaches prior to the blow, and that should pick up again with weekend highs jumping back into the 80s. He said water temperature has dropped rapidly in the past week but was still around 69 off the beach, within the comfort zone of the migrating baitfish and the near-shore pelagics that chase them; www.moorefishing.com Captain Ray Markham, who fishes mostly the lower South Shore area, said lots of reds moved into the backcountry, and can be found in sheltered areas with clean water around oyster bars and mangrove islands feeding on the higher tides. Channel edges and potholes on the flats will produce fish on the lows. Markham, who fishes artificials only, suggested CAL 5.5s and MirrOlure Little Johns fished as jerkbaits. He said the cooler weather will turn on the tripletails around stone crab floats off the beach; www.captainraymarkham.com. Captain Mike Shellen reported from Okeechobee that the strong winds murked up the water in many areas, making for tough fishing. However, in areas of lee shore or protected by weed beds, the water is clear and the pre-spawn bite is on, with some jumbo female largemouths mixed with the smaller bucks. Shellen said spinnerbaits and topwaters work well early, with soft plastics flipped in the pockets better as the day rolls on. The speckled perch bite is also coming on strong, not only at Okeechobee but also throughout the Kissimmee and St. Johns River chains; www.okeechobeebassfishing.com.
Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org