With our water temperature approaching the mid-80s, mid-day fishing especially on the shallow grass flats can get pretty tough. As we approach mid-summer conditions it is imperative to search out those areas that provide good tidal flow, depth and structure. Structure is a relative term. A deep depression just off the edge of a flat or a deep trough cut through the sand along the pass shoals can both be considered structure. Some more obvious structures would be jetties, beach breakers, and of course, the many artificial reefs that line our coast.
Some of the most productive fishing this time of year happens around our pass jetties. These massive structures will hold all kinds of bait, making them a natural stopping point for just about any predator that swims by. Current is usually always present and fish like snook and tarpon will stage up and wait for their meals to come to them. So free lining your baits with the current makes for a deadly presentation. Redfish also can be found working the bottom part of the water column. A medium sized pinfish or a chunk of fresh ladyfish fished on the bottom will let you know if there are any redfish around.
Near-shore mitigation reefs provide excellent habitat for a variety of game fish. These shallow reefs can be found from 50 to a couple of hundred yards offshore. They will hold trout, flounder, cobia and tarpon. Using light tackle and small pilchards will work for the trout, mackerel and flounder, while bigger live baits will attract the attention of the tarpon and cobia.
This is the time of year when we start to see lots of fry-bait in the water both off the beach as well as deeper flats inside the bay. Fishing around these schools of fry bait can be really good. Often you’ll find schools of Spanish mackerel busting through the clouds of micro-baits. Live chumming with pilchards will quickly switch the fishes’ attention to the bigger baits.
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To get a fish photo in the paper, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to editorial@TBNweekly.com or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.