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THE SNOOK BITE IS HOT!!!! Lots of snook holding up in the flats, passes and deeper, flowing edges of mangrove islands. Bait of choice right now is greenback, as per the usual, but don’t pass up the opportunity to utilize the cut bait methods of fishing for snook in Tampa Bay this time of year. The Snook get very lazy this time of year and will readily take cut pinfish, threads and ladyfish on a 2/0 hook. Butterfly your pins or just cut the heads off of half-dollar sized baits for best results. The ladyfish should be cut into 1” to 2” square chunks on a 2/0 circle hook. You can add a ¼ ounce split-shot weight to keep the bait steady in faster moving water or throw them under the mangroves where the water is deeper. This method will yield you the larger girls that are holding in these deeper areas.
The redfish bite is going fairly well with the annual Florida Redfish Tour, All Bait tournament bringing in some good numbers of slot fish and nice reports of over slot fish being caught last weekend of July out of Hooks restaurant near Little Harbor Resorts in Ruskin, Florida. These fish were mostly caught in the same fashion that the snook instructions listed above. Chunk baits on a 2/0 hook and tossed in the channel edges or under the mangrove edges in the cockroach bay areas. You can also use a live pinfish on a ¼ ounce jig head for excellent results on reds. The population of redfish is a little under the norm but of the time and understanding of the forage food is used, great catches of redfish can be obtained.
This time of the year is incredibly hot and the water in the backwater and flats reflects the same. Bait will have a difficult time surviving in the livewell this time of year. Fortunately, the bait in Tampa Bay is small and requires less room and water flow to survive. You will need to bring a ¼ mesh net for your live bait catching endeavors right now but don’t worry, elephants eat peanuts too. The shrimp and greenbacks that we typically use to fish the area waters are more of the new hatch from the spring and early summer spawns and are all over the flats. The towers are primarily holding threadfin herring right now. Pinfish may be your go to for better fishing and survival in the hot waters in Tampa bay. These pins are much more hearty and can tolerate lower oxygen levels that we see when the waters get in the high 80’s like they are now in the bay.
Mangrove snapper are thick in the bay with great numbers of these tasty fish. Cut threads and greenies are your goto for filling the cooler. Use a 1/0 or #1 circle hook drifted back in a chum slick via bag of chum or fresh cutbait. While the size limit is 10”, I don’t keep them unless they are at least 12” and the larger fish of 16” to 18” are in the bay for the spawn of summer. Come to Tampa and fill your coolers on a Tampa fishing charter with Fish This Inshore Charters. Some gag grouper may surprise you on these same techniques.
Trout bite is still going strong after the spawn with good concentrations of spotted sea trout on the flats. Start the morning in the 3ft range and follow the bite to deeper water as the sun rises. The smaller greenies are ideal for fishing the flats for trout. If you’re having difficulty locating bait to catch, don’t hesitate to fall back on the DOA or Zman plastic baits on a ¼ ounce jig head. My clients are catching great numbers of quality trout on these baits while other anglers are fussing over the live bait situation in the bay. Don’t lose the morning bite over lack of live bait.
If you’re looking for a 5-star experience on the waters of Tampa Bay and the Gulf Coast, Capt. Mike Murphy is a hit with his clients. Feel free to read our client reviews here and of course book early! Capt. Mike Murphy is busy and usually books out at least one week and sometimes as much as 4-6 weeks in advance depending on the season and weather. Capt. Mike Murphy can be reached by phone at (813) 459-2521.