Capt. Ray Markham/Backwater Promotions Fishing Charters
July 27, 2014
Sometimes fish that normally are caught offshore move inside the bays and become targets for anglers who might otherwise never get a shot at them. This is true of both cobia and mangrove snapper. Anglers over the past several weeks have seen an influx of mangrove snapper on just about every rock pile or spit of hard bottom in Tampa Bay. Occasionally you’ll find mangos in the shallows, but rarely in the backcountry, where Jim Green, of Wesley Chapel, hit a 17 inch mango while fishing aboard the Flat Back II with me. We ran north toward Bishop’s Harbor to look for snook, trout, reds, flounder, and whatever else we could find. Redfish were not to be found, but we were surprised when Jim hooked up with this nice mangrove snapper on a MirrOlure Lil’ John. I’ve caught plenty of snapper around the channel leading into Port Manatee, but rarely inside backcountry waters, reports Capt. Ray Markham of Backwater Promotions Charters. (941-228-3474) or (941-723-2655).
Cobia that typically roam offshore wrecks and reefs will often follow rays inside the bays to forage for crabs, one of their favorite foods. Nicknamed ‘crab-eaters’, cobia love blue crabs, but will often eat pinfish, eels, and shrimp. Loads of crabs, pinfish, and shrimp are in the bays right now, making easy pickings for cobia. Strong tides like we’ve had this weekend will flush crabs out of Tampa Bay. You can expect this kind of “food mover” to draw predators that eat crabs. Tarpon and cobia will be the main predators, but look for big black drum to feed as well. Hot spots for in the upper Tampa Bay area include the Cortney Campbell Causeway and the Gandy and Howard Franklin Bridges. Bring along some heavy artillery if you expect to land these fish around any structure. Night fishing just after sundown should produce some excellent results. Fish cut blue crabs on the bottom for all these species, Markham said.
Capt. Ray Markham is a Terra Ceia/Palmetto based fishing guide who specializes in light tackle fishing for such species as snook, redfish, speckled trout, and tarpon along Florida’s Central Gulf Coast. Markham, a native of St. Petersburg, has been a professional fishing tackle and outdoors product tester for over 35 years. He has been a saltwater fishing guide for the last 15 years. He runs the Flat Back II out of Terra Ceia and can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.