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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Lower Tampa Bay ideal for reds, trout

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 Ray Markham, one of the few artificial lure guides in the Bay area, has been catching lots of keeper-sized redfish and slot trout in lower Tampa Bay, and also some nice keeper flounder by bouncing DOA jigs on bottom in the smaller passes during strong tide flows. Markham said there are also some lunker snook around, sometimes hitting the Sebile Stick Shad on top.

Markham fishes primarily from the Sunshine Skyway into upper Sarasota Bay; www.captainraymarkham.com.

Captain Jason Prieto has been catching some snook more than 30 inches long up and down the South Shore on live sardines. He said the larger fish are often mixed in with lots of small snook, but quiet, patient fishing eventually will fool the lunkers. He seeks out canals and deeper potholes and river passes for the big snook; www.steadyactionfishingcharters.com.

There are lots of kingfish and Spanish mackerel off Egmont and north, at least as far as Clearwater. Get out early and look for diving birds to find the bait schools. Where the larger concentrations of bait are located, the macks are with them. Live sardines or threadfins are the all-around bait for both species, while anglers pursuing larger kings usually slow-troll live blue runners about 6 inches long. The larger kings are often found around the color-break line on the bigger passes, and over hard bottom farther offshore.

Freshwater bass action remains good around outside weed edges and in areas where current flow is strong after rains. Topwaters and buzz baits are the ticket at dawn, with plastic worms and other soft plastics flipped in the cover later in the day.

Captain Angie Douthit at Okeechobee said she has had great success with split trips, half-day bassing, half-day on bluegills and shellcrackers, of late. The panfishing will continue to improve through the spawning months into mid-summer. Fly-rod poppers or live crickets and worms are the ticket for the panfish; www.southfloridabassfishing.com.

Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at [email protected]

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