One Stop Bait and Tackle, (727) 842-5610: Joe says we’ve pretty much settled into a warm-weather pattern. Anglers are doing well on trout fishing the shallow grass flats very early in the morning, with the action on the deep grass after the sun gets up. Good numbers of snook are on the barrier island beaches and sandbars for the summer spawning season. Reds are where you find them, but working the mangroves when the tide is up, and waiting for fish to fall out of the bushes when the water is dropping is a good strategy. Small sharks are all over the area grass flats. Offshore, boats working the artificial reefs are reporting finding cobia over the structure. Farther out, over rocky bottom and ledges, mangrove snapper fishing has been good, and fair numbers of hogfish are being taken. Gag grouper fishing is good, but the species is out of season.
Anclote Bait and Tackle, (727) 945-1808: Capt. Griff says more and more tarpon are being hooked off Fred Howard Park. Anglers fishing from shore along the causeway have been tangling with some big fish. They also have been taking some nice sharks there, with fish to 6 feet taken near the second bridge. Snook are on the beaches, and anglers using live pinfish, grunts or pigfish have been having some good catch-and-release action. Reds are scattered and it will take a bit of hunting around mangroves and bars to find some cooperative fish. Lots of trout are being taken over the grass flats, but many anglers are noting that the number of undersized fish is very large.
Tarpon Fishing Outfitters, (727) 942-8944: Barrett says the hot action now is snook. The fish are out of season, so they must be released, but the area beaches are holding good numbers of fish. Anclote Key, Caladesi and Honeymoon islands, Three Rooker Bar and other sandy shores are holding some nice fish. Live grunts, pigfish or sardines are working, though finding live sardines has been a challenge this season. Cobia are a good bet for those who set up on the deep grass flats or around deeper channels and set up a chum slick.
Tarpon Trading Company, (727) 937-1488: Pete says snookers are hitting the beaches. Live pinfish, pigfish and sardines fished on the white sand are producing some nice fish. Live sardines have been tough to find, and if you are not out before the sun, you may miss the window to net them. Anclote Key and Three Rooker Bar, as well as the sand bar north of the key, have been good snook waters. Howard Park is seeing some tarpon hookups early in the day, though there have been no reports to the shop of any being landed. The open grass flats are good for trout, small sharks and the odd cobia.
The Long Pier, (727) 391-9398: Gary says the tarpon action has been good off the end of the pier at Redington Shores, with fish to 100 pounds being taken on live bait. Fair numbers of snook are being spotted under the pier, but as they are out of season most anglers have been ignoring them. The trout action is on after dark under lights. Free-lined live shrimp, or fishing them under a float is working. Small blacktip sharks have been common, and a few flounder are being taken. Anglers targeting pompano have been scoring a few.
Nick Stubbs is founder and webmaster of Bitetracker.com, an interactive fishing website.