Fall is in the air. Well, at least what we in Tampa, Florida call Fall. That means shorter days and slightly cooler temperatures. As we move through the month, the days get shorter and water temperatures begin to drop. We will also start to see some mild cold fronts push through, cooling water temperatures. If you haven’t noticed, the common theme this month is water temperature. Fish don’t have a calendar to notify them of the changing months. Therefore, they rely on the change in the water temperature. Our temperatures will start to fall into the 70’s signaling to the fish that winter is approaching. This means they will begin feeding heavily and packing on the weight for the approaching winter.
Tampa fishing guides for redfish were the hot target last month and will continue to be the hot target this month. The bite has been outstanding in most all areas of Tampa Bay. In our region, the same holds true. The water clarity in our region hasn’t been the best, so sight casting schools of fish has been tough. I have gone back to the basics…find the mullet and you are sure to find some redfish. It will take some patience and work, but it will pay off. Cut bait seems to be the best bait, and I prefer pinfish or threadfins. Fish it free lined on 25lb Ohero fluorocarbon leader with a 1/0 Daiichi circle hook.
Tampa fishing charters snook season will remain closed until August 2013. Catch and release action will heat up this month. The last few weeks of September were a little slow. I believe they are in a transition period, but when the fish settle down and get prepared for the coming months, the bite should go off. Our region is a great snook fishery. It has plenty of estuaries you look for when snook fishing…good tidal flow, ambush points, mangroves, and plenty of food. If you put all of these things together, you have a recipe for a perfect snook habitat. I prefer live green backs fished free lined with a 30lb Ohero fluorocarbon leader and a 1/0 Daiichi circle hook. If the live bait bite is not working and you know fish are there, try cut bait.
Tampa Bay trout fishing has slowed a little on the South Shore, but as temperatures cool, look for the bite to pickup. We are getting into those months when you go out and target that trophy size fish. As the water temps cool, the bigger fish will move onto the flats in search of food. I like working the potholes on the low, incoming tides. Live or cut bait will work fished free lined with a 25lb Ohero fluorocarbon leader and a 1/0 Daiichi circle hook. If artificial is your game, now is the time to work on the skills. Trout are not too picky, so they are a good species to use artificials on. Topwater plugs are a favorite of mine. Seeing a big trout explode on a topwater plug is exciting. I usually fish them early in the morning and switch to a soft plastic jerk bait later in the day.
Best of the Rest
The spanish mackerel started to show up in our region late last month and should only get better. Areas around the Skyway and the main ship channel will hold both spanish and king mackerel. A chum block and plenty of live bait to chum with will draw attention from both species. For spanish mackerel, long shank hook and 40lb leader should work. If you are getting a lot of cut offs, switch to light steel leader. For the king mackerel, steel leader is almost a must. A 30-40 lb steel leader will work. If you are running into a lot of short strikes, add a stinger rig. Blue fish will also be hanging around with the macks. Use the same setup as you use for mackerel fishing.
To book a charter with Tampa Bay fishing guide, Capt. Will Shook, call 813.732.5971 or visit