GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Ray Markham.
Currents for the days surrounding a full moon are mostly fast-moving, but they are slower during the day, making for a better feeding scenario at night. Brisk-moving water carries crabs, shrimp and all kinds of baitfish with the currents. This outgoing or ebbing tide is like a food conveyor belt for ambush predators that only have to sit and wait for the food to come to them.
Some of the top targeted species this time of year — snook, trout, tarpon and flounder — are ambush predators. Snook, trout and tarpon, in the spawn or pre-spawn mode, will have accelerated appetites. So, it’s important to position yourself at feeding stations where these fish ambush their prey.
For tarpon, the pilings up-tide around the Skyway bridge and fishing piers are staging points. These areas constantly hold baitfish, but even more importantly, they are in the pathway where crabs and shrimp flow out of the Bay with the current. Tonight might see the single-largest population of shrimp drifting with the outgoing tide as shrimp head into the Gulf to spawn. Jumbo shrimp and crabs are prime forage for tarpon now.
Snook and flounder position themselves on sloping, sandy bottoms of passes where currents bring food and where snook will be spawning tonight. Small male fish will be the most aggressive feeders, while larger females focus on spawning. Trout will position themselves on grass flats adjacent to passes where tide rips carry shrimp.
In shallow areas, drift a free-lined jumbo live shrimp or DOA Shrimp, cast up current, and allow it to sweep in the current. For deeper areas, add a bit of split shot to get the lure or live shrimp down near the bottom for snook, trout and flounder. Tarpon require a heavier hook and will take a 4-inch DOA Shrimp without hesitation. A heavier live bait hook replaces the original hook.
Captain Ray Markham specializes in light tackle fishing with artificial lures and charters on lower Tampa Bay out of Terra Ceia. He can be reached at (941) 723-2655, [email protected] or through his website at www.captainraymarkham.com.