This time of year, it’s really hit or miss on what’s biting. On the south shore of Tampa Bay, the redfish bite has been pretty good. Major tidal flow seems to be the ticket. On a recent trip a few weekends ago, my son Andrew and I found a nice school of over slot reds pushing up onto a flat during mid day.
Normally this time of year the fish wouldn’t be to active during mid day, but a strong incoming tide will trigger them to eat. On this type of tide (Major Low, with a strong incoming) I find that the reds will be hanging out in water that’s about knee deep looking to push back onto the flats. The other thing I have noticed, with this type of tide the redfish will school up. I think they do this for safety. When the tide drops, they have to move out to deeper water where they can be preyed on easier, so as they wait for the water to raise enough to push onto the flats, they stay in these schools. Hard to mistake once you see them, the sight of a big school of redfish pushing onto the flats can get your heart pumping. A weedless jerk bait or spoon is the ticket here. I stick mostly to weedless jerk baits this time of year; there is just too much floating grass to use anything else. A 1/16 or 1/8 oz, 4/0 or 5/0 hook on your favorite soft plastic is the way to go. I really like the Exude RT Slugs in Arkansas Shad and Gold Dart for redfish.
Another tactic for the summer months is what we used to call an afternoon wading soiree. We have good strong out going tides in the afternoon, coupled with daylight savings time, you have several hours available after work to get out on the flats. A group of us went out a few weeks ago and found some really nice trout wanting to play.
The south shore of Tampa Bay is a unique fishery with one very noticeable feature. Running almost the entire length of the coast line, you find a sandbar about 1000 yards out from the main shore. On this sandbar you find gaps, so when the tide turns and goes out these gaps become highways for the fish to travel out to deeper water. On either side of the sand bar is a trough, also another place the fish will hang out, waiting for the water to come back up on the flats. Working these gaps in the summer time with a weedless jerk bait, you can catch just about anything. This type of fishing, especially in the winter time is my favorite. I will cover this in much more detail once winter rolls around.
Snook still are a no show here on my side of the bay. I have talked with several guides and they report very low numbers. On a recent trip out to a well known spoil island where the snook go to spawn, yielded nothing. We didn’t even see any and that is very discouraging. This spot is usually covered up with snook this time of year. The FWC (Florida Wildlife Conservation) extended the closed season until September 16th, at which time they will look at keeping it closed for an extended period.
Tarpon, this has been a great year for tarpon, unless your name is Bill and you paddle a Malibu kayak. I just haven’t put the time in this year. The beach tarpon season has been great this year; friends of mine have had multiple catches this season. They have now spawned offshore and when they return they seem to spread out more. They can still be caught off the beach, but not as easily. Several weeks ago I joined my friend Larry Care, aka Longleader for some Black Drum action and while we didn’t find any drum, we did see a whole bunch of tarpon. So they have spread out throughout the bay, so this time of year I always carry my tarpon rod rigged with a DOA baitbuster, just in case you run into a school of them roaming the flats. A Shimano Terramar, 8’, Heavy Fast action, with a Shimano Spheroes 6000 reel spooled with 40 lb braid.
Speaking of Larry, I joined him this past Saturday for some Black Drum action. Larry is a great guy to fish with and let me tell you, he has one tricked out kayak.
Opting to shoot video and pictures, something I usually do, I got my shot at these big Black Drum. Normally the technique Larry uses is paddle along looking at the pilings, where you will see the drum tailing as they feed along the piling. Today was a little different. I actually caught sight of them tailing away from the piling. It’s not really deep here, around 12 or 13 feet deep, so when I saw this my first thought was it had to be a school of them. I was right. Casting a live large shrimp (yes, I was using live bait. I have taken a unmerciful amount of ribbing for this) it didn’t take long until I was hooked up. A very subtle bite, you never actually feel it, the drum just suck the shrimp in and keep on swimming. Using a 6/0 circle hook and the same rod mentioned for beach tarpon, I just watch for my line to start moving, and then I slowly reel the line until I feel the fish. It’s like trying to reel a bag of bricks off the bottom.
After letting the area calm down a bit, we returned but didn’t find the big uglies. So moving to the other side of the man channel that runs under the bridge, we found them again. Same thing all over again, except this one was just a bit bigger.
All too soon the weather moved in and Larry and I had to get off the water. We have another trip planned for this upcoming weekend.
What’s on the horizon? Continued hot with oppressive humidity. Another trip to Cedar Key is in store for me in two weeks, so be on the lookout for that report. Fall Kingfish season is around the corner, in my opinion it’s the best time to target them from the kayak.
Don’t forget to check out kayakfshingradio.com, Thursday’s at 8pm. If I’m not on the road working, maybe I can call in, or at least listen in. Until then…..