Over the past couple of weeks, fishing has shown steady improvement. Redfish have moved back into the area in good numbers from Cockroach Bay near Ruskin to Long Bar in Sarasota Bay. We have been limiting out during my fishing charters, catching anywhere from six to 12 reds per trip on CAL Jigs with Shad tails in night glow/ gold holographic, MirrOlure Lil’ John Jerk Baits, and Eppinger Rex gold spoons in the half-ounce size. Water clarity has improved considerably. Along with cleaner water, our trout catches have gone up. While a big disparity of sizes of trout are being caught, moving from spot to spot eventually will locate some slot sized fish, and even a few in the mid-twenty inch range.
Due to very warm conditions, the early bite has been good up through about 9 a.m. During pre-dawn periods, top water lures are working very well for some nice trout. The MirrOlure MirrOmullet XL has been a true performer for big fish especially on the incoming tide. The finger mullet imitation has been most productive around mullet schools. An occasional snook will blast the lure too, so in anticipation of that event, I’m using 25-pound test Ande Backcountry as leader material.
After the tide has turned to head out in the afternoons and the water movement increases, so has the speckled trout bite in Terra Ceia Bay. The DOA Deadly Combo and DOA Shrimp have outpaced other baits used for trout during the outgoing tide phase. Our largest trout over the past week was 23-inches, and was caught in lower Tampa Bay near the mouth of the Manatee River.
Flounder catches have been on the rise too, with some hefty flatties to 18-inches coming on Love’s Lures and CAL Shad tails. It’s important to maintain contact with the bottom while working jigs for flounder. Allow the jig to hit bottom and then with a small snap of the rod, hop the jig off the bottom about 6-inches or so, allowing it to drop back down to the bottom, creating a small puff of sand when it touches down. It’s not necessary to use live bait to catch fish, but some anglers like to take a small bit of fresh shrimp and “tip” the jig with the shrimp. The piece of shrimp should be no larger than your small fingernail.
Recently I’ve been experimenting with some Japanese lures from the DUO company. They are still not readily available in the US market, but are making strides in that realm. These unique hard baits offer a wide array of body styles and some of the most unusual action I’ve seen from hard baits in recent years. It appears that the action could be just what fish have needed to trigger strikes. Something different, and something new. I’m still trying different hooks and weight distribution with the baits I’m working currently. In the future, I’ll feature a few of the baits in my reports with photos and give updates on their availability in the US.
With the full moon approaching on August 2nd, look for the activity to increase with the changes in the tides and the solunar periods. This month is a rarity, in that we have two full moons. They call it a blue moon when there are two full moon periods occurring in the same month (the second on August 31st). You have always heard that some things, especially the really good ones, only happen once every blue moon. Well, a great day on the water with terrific fishing can be one of those really good things. Get your friends, family or fishing buddy, and get out fishing! ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!
Article by Ray Markham
Capt. Ray Markham runs the Flat Back II fishing charter out of Terra Ceia. If you would like to schedule a charter, please contact him at (941) 228-3474 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.