Make no mistake about it– it’s hot out there, but the fishing can be just as hot as the temperature if you’re at the right spot at the right time. Variety might be the name of the game, but quality fish are also being caught in lower Tampa Bay right now. The areas we have been fishing include shallow grass flats, sand bars, deep grass, limestone hard bottom, shell bottom, and sand bottom in depths ranging from 2 to 14-feet of water. Anglers aboard my boat have caught snook, spotted seatrout, silver trout, flounder, permit, tarpon, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, gag and red grouper, black seabass, and even a few lesser desirables like hardhead and gaff top sail cats, puffers, pinfish, grunts, jacks, ladyfish, lizardfish, and puffers.
The lures we used throughout the day were mostly subsurface in the numerous locations that we fished, except for the early morning topwater bite. Jigs ruled in deeper open water, using CAL Jigs with Shad tails on ¼-ounce jig heads, and MirrOlure Lil’ John jerk baits on both ¼-ounce and 1/16-ounce jig heads. Anglers caught silver and speckled trout, flounder, bluefish, gag grouper, red grouper, black seabass, and a tarpon as well as a few unmentionables…uh, like catfish, puffers, jacks, ladyfish, and quality lizardfish. Unmentionables? Well, I mention them because they pull hard, and for kids, put smiles on faces. They don’t care, and aren’t fish snobs. These species were all caught in depths ranging from 8-to 14-feet of water. One tarpon was jumped on the MirrOlure Lil’ John and broke off on the light trout rig used.
Tim Kolschowsky, visiting from Illinois, landed trout to 21-inches, bluefish, and a nice permit on a CAL Shad while fishing a long sandy bar in 3-to 5-feet of water adjacent to a grass flat on the Bulkhead. His daughter, Alicia Marie of Sarasota, landed bluefish, snook, mangrove snapper, trout, and jumped a tarpon using CAL Shads and MirrOlure Lil’ Johns in Joe Bay, Terra Ceia Bay and lower Tampa Bay. We caught silver trout, flounder, ladyfish, jacks, and bluefish on DOA Shrimp and MirrOlure MirrOdines in 2-4-feet of water on grass patches in Terra Ceia and Joe Bays, and trout on MirrOlure Top Dogs.
Regardles of how mentionable or unmentionable these fish were, there’s no question, Tampa Bay is the Spice of Life…where variety rules!