Fishing Report July 19, 2015

Hatch bait increases, bringing migratory species to area

Fishing around Anna Maria Island is improving compared to the bite of last week. An influx of hatch bait is appearing in Tampa Bay, which is in turn attracting a multitude of migratory fish.

Around these large schools of bait are Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, blue runners and ladyfish. With these high-activity fish you’ll also find blacktip and bull sharks. Try fishing outgoing tides around the passes and outwards in the Gulf of Mexico. Look for diving birds to locate schools of bait. The birds are a sure indicator that baitfish are present. Once a school of fish is spotted, simply motor over to it and cast jigs and spoons to get a bite. Usually this bite is instantaneous so be ready to hook up immediately after your lure enters the water.

To target sharks, simply catch a mackerel or jack, cut it into hand-size chunks and cast it back into the frenzy of fish. After the bait sinks down below the school, you should get bit.

On the reefs and wrecks, mangrove snapper are still available. Try using small shiners or hatch bait combined with a bottom rig to get a bite. You can also chum with dead hatch baits to get the snapper to rise from the bottom and hit a free-lined bait. This method is exciting because it’s visual. Watch the snapper eat your bait and then set the hook.