Captain Rob Salimbene – Mangrove Man Charters
June fishing has been a little slow for me this year, but with some hard work and some minor adjustments strategy wise we have been able to put some great days together and make for some memorable times on the water.
Tarpon are still throughout the entire Tampa Bay area and within the coming weeks should make another strong showing. Most of the fish have moved offshore to take care of their spawning, but once they come back, they will be hungry and looking to eat. I prefer to fish 60lb. fluorocarbon leader rigged on a 7ft. heavy spinning rod with a 5/0 to 7/0 circle hook depending on the size of the bait. (smaller bait, smaller hook) Egmont Channel or the Sunshine Skyway are great places to start your Tarpon search. The best advice I can give for someone new to Tarpon fishing in these areas is to go out to one of these areas and watch how people are fishing; are they drifting, or anchored, are they using crabs or some type of baitfish, are people hooking up on the downtide or uptide side of the structure? Taking a little time to watch will ultimately lead to making you a better angler and will minimize the chance of you upsetting someone who understands how to fish that particular area. One of the best pieces of Tarpon advice I have ever heard is, “Go slow, like between idle speed and 1500 rpm’s and you will be amazed at how much you can pick up.”
Another species I have been fishing the past couple of weeks have been redfish. I have been targeting redfish on the higher tides around oyster bars throughout the entire south bay area. The best bait I have found has been fresh cut threadfin chunks on a 2/0 circle hook. A lot of the areas I have been fishing are heavily pressured, and I believe that the cut threadfin is catching the most fish because it’s unthreatening. Nothing moving, just putting some stink on the bottom. Most of the fish I have been catching have been overslot, however there are a few mixed in that definitely could come home to the dinner table if you choose. Remember keep only what you will eat and revive the fish you put back carefully to make sure they swim off strongly.
Lastly, the snapper fishing has picked up nicely and should only continue to get better in the next month. I have been targeting the snapper around the skyway, but all the local bay structures should be holding fish within the coming month. A small live greenback or a fresh piece of cut threadfin has been producing some snapper up to 17 inches. I prefer to chum some cut pieces of threadfin to get the fish active and then begin working hooked baits in the same area. 25lb fluorocarbon leader and a 2/0 circle hook has been producing very well in the past couple weeks.
Overall the fishing is very good if you can tolerate the heat. I must say that I was concerned at how the fishing would be this summer following the hard freeze that we had this past winter. As a guide that relied on Snook for the majority of my charter trips, I was not sure how things would work out, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how well the fishery has held up and even how the Snook have recovered. There are definitely not the same numbers of Snook that we have seen in past years, but I think the future is still positive for our great fishery.