Lots of rain and plenty of heat between showers have been cutting into the fishing action of late.
With many of the thundershowers early in the day, the usual tactic of getting out early to beat the afternoon rains hasn't been an option, so area shops report little fishing activity for the past week. To make matters worse, some anglers are reporting spotty patches of red tide about 25 miles offshore. There have been no reports of dead fish anywhere near our coastline, but fears are that the red tide might be blown in from offshore.
Until then, it looks like the best bet is to keep an eye on the weather and work areas where you can escape rain and lightning if a storm moves in. The good news is almost all the action is shallow along the coast, in the rivers or backwaters.
Angler's Depot, (727) 938-5364: Cody says all the rain has been cutting into the fishing, but the people who are getting out report good action with reds along the shallow mangroves and around the mouth of the Anclote River. Snook have moved into some of the same areas, and already are showing up inside the river following the summer spawn. Trout are on the grass flats in 4 to 8 feet of water. Cody took a trip to Tampa Bay, and reports that they spotted lots of tarpon around the Skyway Bridge. The tarpon are moving into the bay now, and will move all the way to the top of the bay until the weather turns cold.
Anclote Bait and Tackle, (727) 945-1808: Capt. Griff says anglers have been dodging the rain and trying to beat the heat, a difficult task over the past week. Those who are squeezing in fishing time between the rains have been scoring some snook in the Anclote River. There also have been some good catches of reds in the river. Sharks have been on the grass flats, and the grass beds off Fred Howard Park, in Tarpon Springs, are a prime place to look for them. The same flats will give up some trout. Offshore, anglers have been reporting red tide. Most of the reports have been for waters 20 miles or more offshore. So far it hasn't been too disruptive, and everyone is hoping it clears up and doesn't move inshore.
Tarpon Trading Company, (727) 937-1488: Pete says the mouths of the Anclote and Cotee rivers have been a good place to ambush a snook or pick up a couple of redfish. The snook have completed their annual spawn and are staging around the river mouths in preparation for the coming colder weather. There have been some big snook seen, but a lot of the reds have been on the small side. The stretch between the north end of Anclote Key and the north sandbar has been giving up some nice trout, and the same area is producing good numbers of small sharks. Cut threadfins on the bottom have been the best shark bait.
One Stop Bait and Tackle, (727) 842-5610: Joe says rainy weather has been keeping a lot of anglers off the water, but those who sneak out between showers have been reporting good action on reds and snook along the mangroves between the Cotee and Anclote rivers. Most worked the strong tides around the high, fishing close to the mangroves. Trout have been on the grass flats in around 6 feet of water. Small sharks are abundant on most any flat. Offshore action has been very slow, with few boats getting out.
The Long Pier, (727) 391-9398: Anglers have been working under the lights at night for trout, with the days bringing some decent catches of mangrove snapper, a few flounder and the odd drum. There still are a few tarpon being hooked off the end of the pier at Redington Shores. Snook seem to have pulled a disappearing act over the past week.
Nick Stubbs is founder and webmaster of Bitetracker.com, an interactive fishing website.