Some pompano have moved into waters near the Big Bend power plant. Not many have known this and fished for them yet. As bay water temperatures cool with these cold fronts, the overall fishing in that area will improve. Think about checking it out soon.
Spanish mackerel have been all over the bay and are easily chummed up for action. They’ll soon be moving south along with the kingfish. Expect that action to slow, so get them while you still can.
One bite I see staying the same has been for the smaller mangrove or grey snapper inside the bay. Quite often I stop and fish the bottom holes and structure with small shrimp. Most times it’s a five-second rule with fish hitting that fast.
Remember that inside the bay and all state waters, the limit is five per angler. You have to go offshore into federal waters before the limit changes to 10. Keep the grunts you catch along with the snapper. They eat well and lately I’ve seen a lot of them quite large. Every time one comes up I hear words like, “That’s an offshore grunt.”
I spent a successful week hunting deer with a muzzleloader in Georgia. On the return trip I called a captain friend to find out how the gag grouper bite has been in the bay.
“It’s awful with some big fish,” he replied.
An answer like that makes little sense until you add some experience to it. Typically there is a lot of action on short fish with many keepers caught. Lately I find almost no short fish on a troll. When I do get fish, they’re usually in the 25- to 30-inch range.
Those fishing bait, both live and dead, have been doing better. Snapper fishing has shown me there are many short gag and red grouper are in the bay. I expect this last month of the season to show much improvement in the trolling bite.
One interesting story recently came to my attention. On a recent trip a fisherman out of O’Neills Marina hooked and landed an 80-pound cobia. When that fish hit, his reel was locked down with a tight drag. Guess it caught him off balance since his captain had to grab him by the heels as he was being pulled overboard. You often hear stories like that in legend but this really happened.
There are stories and there’s “fish stories.” Those of you who share in the sport know strange things can happen when fishing. My advice is to get out, make it happen and…
Catch ‘em up.
Larry Malinoski, aka the FishHawk, is one of three Ruskin-based fishing guides and charter captains who share this column. He can be reached at (813) 469-7251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.