The weather so far this month has been typical, albeit on the warm side. Water temps are hovering in the low 80s but should start to drop as the days continue to shorten.
The bite in South Shore waters has been very good these past few weeks. Our most consistent bite has been redfish in the mid-slot range of 21 to 24 inches. We’ve been catching them from Bishop Harbor north to the Apollo Beach area.
The redfish have been schooled up on the flats, and my most productive time has been on higher tides. Seems to me, once the water drops out, the redfish move off the flats into some deeper water, making them a little harder to find. One good tactic to catch them is to drift a patchy grass flat and cast your favored artificial bait. One of my favorites is a quarter- or half-ounce gold spoon. This seems to do the trick for me.
If you’re using live bait, try fishing a large patchy grass flat that has lots of mullet activity. Approach the area with the wind at your back so you approach quietly. Once you get to the area, set your anchor and fish until you’re ready to move to the next spot. Then just pull up the anchor and let the wind blow you there.
You’d be surprised at how effective this technique is. Just moving 75 yards can make a big difference in your catch ratio. It’s all about being quiet and moving to the next group of fish. Pilchards, small pinfish or shrimp seem to work fine as bait. All are plentiful in the local area.
The other bright spot this week has been the appearance of schools of pompano. I’ve seen them at the mouth of the Little Manatee River south to the Skyway Bridge. I like using Doc’s Goofy jigs as bait. Don’t ask me why they work; they just do. I’ll set up in an area where I’ve seen the pompano and just drop the jig over the side and bounce it off the bottom. I like doing this in deeper areas just on the outside edges of the sand bars that line the South Shore area. I’ve also caught pompano on shrimp, but you have to be very patient. I hope these schools hang around for awhile.
There’s plenty of white bait on the flats of Tampa Bay just about anywhere you go — lots of small bait but usable. As we approach November, I expect the bait to move off the grass flats into deeper water.
Be safe out there.
Danny Guarino is one of three Ruskin-based fishing guides and charter captains who share this column. He can be reached at (813) 956-2010 or [email protected]