Strong winds, frequent rain and cooler temperatures have shut down fishing in the middle and upper parts of the bay. Decent whitebait has been almost impossible to locate, and if you are fortunate enough to find some, diligence on your favorite spots is a must.
With the inner-bay temperature in the mid 60s, snook fishing has slowed to a crawl. There have been some decent returns in the Hillsborough River and some respectable catches in the northern creeks but as a whole, snook fishing is a wash.
The cobias that usually lurk around the outflows of the power plants have been a no-show. The late arrival might be due to the slow decline in water temperature.
We spent a lot of time looking for fish Saturday. The low water made it tough to do any real flats fishing, so we opted for throwing artificial bait for bluefish. The bite was solid for about two hours and we managed to boat 10 fish in the 2- to 4-pound range. Bluefish are tough on light tackle, so use a small amount of wire and long shank hooks to avoid biteoffs.
Another cool-water option is sheepshead. The bite around the bridges has been productive. Shrimp, green mussels and oysters are your best bets for bait. Use No.4 hooks and a small split shot. Use more weights if the tide is heavy.
–Chuck Rogers charters out of Rattlesnake Point Outfitters at Bayside Marina in Tampa. Call 813 835-1919 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org