Inshore fishing has been good for bay tarpon and bull sharks. Targeting 10 to 15 feet deep dredge areas near upper Tampa Bay bridges at times can be excellent for both. Light winds make for perfect conditions when looking for rolling tarpon. Ease your way to the fish with the trolling motor on low speed. Then either cast artificial lures such as slow sinking plugs or broadcast a spread of fresh dead bait such as mullet and shad. The latter will also attract the occasional 4- to 6-foot bull shark, so using a trace of wire is helpful.
Bridges offer anglers refuge from the heat and rain. Their shadow lines both night and day make excellent ambush points for big predatory fish, such as tarpon, snook and cobia, and their adjacent structures attract bottom dwellers such as snapper, flounder and pompano. The bottom line is, for opportunistic anglers, bridge fishing can be a productive way to put a few fish in the cooler while staying cool and dry at the same time.
Shallow water gag grouper fishing remains good. Depths as shallow as 30 feet are holding nice grouper. Live pinfish and frozen sardines are a great one-two punch. If the fish aren’t very active or not exactly where you anchored, the scent and activity created by the smaller fish picking at the sardine will draw the attention of the gags. Then, dropping the pinfish should entice the larger fish into biting.
Red grouper fishing has been very good in depths of 80 to 100 feet. Drift fish when possible with a combination of frozen sardines and whole squid.
Red snapper are currently open on the weekends for the next couple of months. Lately the minimum depth range has been 100 feet for consistent catches of red snapper. Big ledges and artificial structures with high relief are perfect holding spots for any kind of snapper. Frozen sardines work great for snapper, but having some larger live baits such as pinfish and grass grunts will help you target the larger fish. The minimum size is 16 inches with a two fish per person daily bag limit.
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at email@example.com. To get a fish photo in the paper, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.