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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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The fishing is great — early or late

I keep trying to stay away from the heat of the day with my fishing. For me, the early morning hours seem to work well. If there’s tidal movement I can have a good day, be in by 10 a.m., and use the rest of the time to … rest in air conditioning.

I’ve been hearing from some who are heading out before dark and fishing during the night. On the Alafia River, docks and mangrove edges are holding nice fish at night.

Get to those lighted docks and throw something up top. Big snook just might be your reward. It’s a great time for those with smaller boats and kayaks to evening fish.

Folks using little boats are finding great success all along South Shore. Big redfish just seem to be concentrated in water so skinny almost no boat can get there. If you can, try the skinny water. Areas like The Kitchen hold nice fish if you can get on them during a strong, moving tide.

Tell me about your success at night in skinny water. I have this sleeping habit and fondness for larger boats that keeps me out of your way.

Snapper continue to be available along the edges of the ship channel. Lots of shark are around for those enjoying the battles and excitement they bring. The edges of the Port Manatee Channel and Sunshine Skyway area are great for blacktips and bonnetheads, with an occasional monster thrown in. Getting your baits out of those ladyfish and mackerel schools is a fun way to prepare for shark battles.

Grouper trolling has been slow to slower. In addition to scent, I’m now playing with sound to waken gags from their hot-water doldrums. The tried-and-true rattletrap lure works for me under these warm conditions. Only issue I have with them is the increasing price for each lure. Just seems you need deeper pockets to fish successfully from large boats each year.

If you must fish during the heat, try some Gulp-scented tails on small jigs for flounder. Sandy areas around the mouth of the Little Manatee have nice fish right now.

I watched a fellow slowly work the river in the heat of the day like this. He threw back many keeper fish and kept a few nicer ones for dinner.

The Gulf Council is holding meetings around the state to get input on Regional Management Plans. Local experts tell me it’s leading to state quotas and paid permits for recreational fishermen. Check the NOAA Vision Plan for 2020. Its goal is catch and release for all recreational anglers.

You may now choose to keep slot snook. Many wish you wouldn’t but it’s your decision. I say go ...

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 [email protected]

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