Our near-shore beaches remain active with baitfish and predators alike. Schools of Spanish mackerel of all sizes continue to flood into the area.
Along with them is a host of other speedy gamesters, including bluefish, jack crevalle, cobia and a few rouge kingfish. Live bait chumming has made it easy to bring the mackerel right behind the boat. A frozen chum block, live pilchards, long shank hooks and a 30-pound leader are about all you need to catch a bunch of mackerel.
Meanwhile, send out a blue runner or small jack crevalle under a balloon rigged up on a stinger rig for a shot at a cobia or an early season kingfish.
Tarpon and sharks are also getting in on the act all along area beaches. The sharks can be easily chummed up with frozen chum blocks and fresh cut bait. The key is to look for areas of off-colored water; these areas are where the bait is stirring up the bottom leaving clouds of mud on the surface. Fish with cut mackerel, mullet or shad on the bottom, and you’ll keep busy with sharks and the occasional tarpon.
Inshore, the action has also been good; hoards of juvenile baitfish can easily be spotted by the white terns overhead. Targeting clean, moving water will give you the best opportunity to find Spanish mackerel, trout, ladyfish, bonnet head sharks and redfish. Setting up on the edge of primary flats at lower tidal stages, preferably on a bend or a point, and casting and chumming with live pilchards out across the secondary flat will give you the best chance for plenty of action and variety.
Mangrove snapper are schooled up good with the onset of this latest full moon. Artificial reefs from the beach out to 10 miles are loaded with chunky mangrove snapper. Anchoring up-tide of the structure and chumming with a frozen block of chum as well as some cut pieces of sardines will bring the snapper right behind the boat. Use either cut sardines, live pilchards or live shrimp for bait.
Until next week – get bent!
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 editorial@TBNweekly.com or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.