Tampa Bay Fishing Report
1 At Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, sheepshead 12-14 inches have been very active this week. Mangrove snapper biting. Snook hitting live baits at night. A few redfish up to 27 inches. Red tide has departed. Water temperature still high, 91.3 degrees on Thursday.
2 At Madeira Beach, captains already speculating about how good, or bad, fall kingfish run might be because of red tide off west central coast. Kings are still a few weeks away, usually best around Thanksgiving, with their arrival depending on how many cold fronts come through in October. Water temperature is still close to 90, and kings like it 78 or lower. Grouper fishermen having to find new spots after every passing hurricane, and they’re going 30-60 miles out to 120160 feet of water.
3 At John’s Pass, Capt. Chuck MacIntyre of Treasure Island (727-709-9045) has been fishing north on the flats off Clearwater and Tarpon Springs, finding good action for snook, redfish and trout. MacIntyre said he’s doing best on early morning tide changes around oyster beds near deeper channels. Also good trout up to 18 inches on flats around Fred Howard Park.
4 At Fort DeSoto Park, good place to go if you’re looking for solitude. But you’re not likely to catch anything decent. Red tide seems to be easing, with some baitfish around piers this week. But no fish yet.
5 Around the Sunshine Skyway and lower Tampa Bay, undersized snook abundant this week on greenbacks. Slotsized fish sighted with them, but not feeding, reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Lakeland (941-761-0301 in Bradenton). But with 40 snook a trip, nobody’s complaining too much. Bigger snook will pick up as water cools into 70s. It’s 83 on flats this week. Also slot-sized redfish here and there on flats, along with an increase in keeper trout 15-18 inches. Crawford said he’s seen some huge cobia on shallow flats, and also reports juvenile tarpon 20-30 pounds at night around U.S. 41 bridge on Manatee River. Crawford said red tide still affecting water south of Manatee Avenue bridge in Sarasota Bay.
6 At Anna Maria, high concentrations of red tide reported at Longboat Pass and New Pass on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s current status report (MyFWC.com) through Sept. 23. Red tide has eased at the city pier, but fishing not back to normal yet. Flats fishermen in upper Sarasota Bay catching more trout now, along with good numbers of snook 24-26 inches long, north of Manatee Avenue Bridge.
7 At St. Petersburg, mixed bag for Capt. Chuck Rogers of Winter Haven, with everything from keeper cobia to big black drum over the past week. Rogers (Rattlesnake Point Outfitters in south Tampa, 813-918-8356) reports decent bite for snook in the mid-bay region at the end of outgoing tides in afternoons on greenbacks. Cobia around channel markers. Black drum, up to 50 pounds, around Gandy Bridge at night. Redfish scattered. Water temperature on flats 84 degrees.
8 In the north end of Tampa Bay, trout starting to improve on flats north and south of Courtney Campbell. Snook mostly undersized. Redfish sporadic.
Snook and redfish feeding on fall mullet run in Indian River Lagoon system. Capt. Jon Bull of Lakeland (Shadowcast Charters at 863-8607250) reports snook, reds and juvenile tarpon on artificials around bridges on weedless D.O.A. jerkbaits (4- and 5.5-inch Glow color) and D.O.A. Glow Shrimp.
Snook and redfish targeted at Charlotte Harbor. Traces of red tide sneaking inside Boca Grande Pass, but fish cooperating where water is clean. Red tide is an issue farther south at Sanibel, with medium concentrations reported.
COMPILED BY DEL MILLIGAN