Fishing around the Tampa Bay area has been on fire!!!! The fish are in their usual summer patterns and the air temperatures are sweltering. I have been running most of my trips early and late in the day to try and beat some of the heat, and we have been consistently catching solid numbers of fish.
Snook are all along our coastal beaches and passes with some monsters being caught in the last few weeks. Most of our fish right now are going between 24 and 30 inches with the occasional fish over 40. I am using live greenbacks rigged on a No. 1 circle hook and then free-lined. Remember that these fish are spawning, so get them to the boat quickly, take your picture, and then release them carefully so that we can have Snook for generations to come.
Redfish are still schooling up along the flats of south Tampa Bay. I am working potholes along the flats in 2 to 4 feet of water. Most of the time I am using the same rig I use for Snook fishing, although sometimes when the Reds are picky I am using dead greenbacks and threadfins instead of live. The Redfish are averaging anywhere from 16 to 30 inches.
Cobias are all over the bay holding on channel markers and following large stingrays looking for an easy meal. A live pinfish, or an imitation eel and bucktail jig are my preferred baits. Be sure to keep a rod rigged for these fish and when they are sighted cast that bait out in front of them. Usually Cobia are feisty eaters, so they do not need much enticing.
Tarpon are in all the local passes and up and down all the local beaches. The bait of choice has been pass crabs on a 6/0 circle hook and a 60lb leader. Drift the crab in front of the school or rolling fish and hang on. Most fish average between 60 and 100lbs however there are some bruisers out there going well over 150. Handle these fish with care, and revive them well before releasing them and we will have great Tarpon stocks for years to come.
All in all the fishing around the bay is going great. Getting out early or late in the day can really reduce the heat for the anglers and can also lead to some of the days best catches, so get out there and wet a line, today could be the day you land that trophy.