For well over a month, areas from Charlotte Harbor to Tampa Bay have been plagued with bouts of red tide that come and go with the direction of the wind and strength of the tides. This has made consistency of catching good numbers of fish a challenge to say the least. The levels of the algae bloom have not been high enough to kill, but just high enough at times to make fish lethargic and put a damper on their appetites.
We are seeing very good numbers of redfish, and in fact, on numerous occasions we will come upon a school of 100 or more reds. We will stay off the school and make extremely long casts to the perimeter of the fish in order to keep from spooking the school. In that way, we can pick fish off without making the entire school wary of our presence. But some times, the fish just plain won’t eat. We can see the fish, but they act as if they have a flu bug and won’t chew. But when we have been able to get on some fish that would eat, three lures we tossed were effective. Eppinger’s ¼ or 1/2-ounce gold Rex Spoon, a CAL ¼-ounce chartreuse jig head with a gold/glow Shad tail, and a sour lemon color MirrOlure Lil’John rigged on a 1/16-ounce jig head were the producers here.
Last week’s easterly breezes seemed to have blown the bloom offshore, however I have not heard that it had affected the bite out off the beaches. Some anglers have been reporting banner action with tripletail on the stone crab trap buoys, and that tells me things are OK out there. With greater depths, I’m sure the dilution of the bloom would minimize the affect it has on fish. This drop in levels of red tide in the lower Tampa Bay area was reflected in the sampling reports from scientists tracking the algae bloom. Because of this drop, I’m convinced that the increased action we saw with trout, redfish, snook, and flounder over the past week was as a result of cleaner water.
A recent two-boat trip produced the kind of results I’m talking about with the red tide, but even so, novice anglers were able to catch some redfish, ladyfish, and trout.
The weather here has been spectacular, and temperatures have been favorable for just about everything. The prediction for the holidays ahead have been similar to our stellar weather of late, but with a few small fronts moving in, bringing some much needed rain, and a little cooler weather, that will acclimate the fish to the winter weather ahead. For the time being, fish are beginning to make up for their chewing deficit. Typically we can expect excellent action from bigger trout that will be schooling in deep holes and channels, bluefish and Spanish mackerel that will be just outside the bays feeding on the schools of baitfish that have moved off the flats, flounder that will move into the bays and passes from the artificial reefs, and redfish that will work up into skinny water to chew. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!