Early in the week, the high winds precluded fishing the Gulf at all, and the bay was no great guns either for several days due to the wind and super high tides. At week's end, though, the scorching hot weather broke, the tides got back to normal and the fishing improved.
Mangrove snapper was the mainstay on Monday and Tuesday along with some grouper, trout and ladyfish. After the windy weather pattern broke we started to pick up some snook, trout and a few redfish inshore around North Sarasota Bay, Palma Sola Bay and Anna Maria Sound.
There have been numerous sharks in and around the mouth of Tampa Bay. The high tides around the noon hour all week made it tough since most of the snook and reds were way back in the bushes, so the most productive times to fish were late in the afternoon when the huge tide started barreling out of the passes.
As we progress in to the dog days of summer, large white bait will become increasingly hard to find but there are a number of alternatives to explore. Finger mullet can often be found milling around lighted docks just before dawn when they can easily be netted. After daylight they become spookier and harder to get; they are excellent hardy baits in summer.
Chubs (killifish) are another hardy bait that can be found in extremely shallow backwater areas. There are two types: the short, rounder ones that are killer for flounder and mangrove snapper and the long snouted ones with vertical stripes. Both types are highly productive baits and very easily kept alive in the summer heat.
Pinfish are often overlooked but are thick and easy to net in the summer. Use a quarter-inch mesh cast net and chum in a grassy area no more than three to four feet deep. The quarter-sized pinnies are an excellent snapper bait, quite often outperforming small pilchards. Half-dollar sized units become a deadly bait for redfish and large trout fished under a popping cork. Set the bait at a level beneath the cork so it will swim just above the bottom grass. Small grunts will also be mixed in with the pinfish and they are the ultimate for big gator trout. Pass crabs are common now and can be found pouring out of the bays on the big outgoing tides.
Good luck and good fishing. Be careful out there!
Capt. "Zach" Zacharias
Docked on Palma Sola Bay at Parrot Cove Marina/Sunny Shores
115th Street West and 36th Avenue, Cortez, FL 34215
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