Rain, rain go away — please stay out of Tampa Bay
If you like fishing in the rain, this past week was your week.
Like clockwork, thunderstorms developing in the Gulf of Mexico were taking landfall every morning usually before 10 a.m. Does this affect the fishing you ask? No too much, the fish are already wet. What it does affect are the fishermen and women who venture out on the water unprepared. During weeks when we are on a weather pattern such as we’ve had, it’s smart to always carry your rain gear. Yeah, I know, you’re from up north and its 80 degrees out. Well, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to get wet and cold when a thunderstorm dumps a couple of inches of rain in the area you’re fishing. Think ahead and bring that rain gear — trust me, you’ll be happy you did.
As far as fishing goes, all of us locals know that typically August can be a challenging month for fishing, especially in the backcountry. For those of us who fish year round, day in and day out, you learn to take it in stride. Work with what you’ve got and enjoy being out on the water. We’re experiencing some of the hottest days of the year with water temps to match. Now is a great time to target spotted seatrout on the flats. There are two things to remember. One is to find deeper grass flats — 5-8 feet. The next is to try to fish early morning when it is still a little cooler out than say at 2 p.m. in the afternoon. I’m finding success by drifting the flats with a simple rig consisting of a popping cork, split shot and a No. 4 size hook. Bait this up with a live shiner and you’re in business.
Another option right now is to target mangrove snapper. These fish seem to tolerate the warmer waters with ease. Plus, you can find these fish in a lot of different terrain. Reefs and wrecks are excellent places to search, but you can also find snapper around piers, docks, jetties, bridges or anywhere there is some sort of structure present. Again, live shiners for bait are like candy for these tasty snapper. As far as rigging is concerned, see what is applicable to where you are fishing. One rule of thumb is always to use the lightest leader and smallest hook you feel comfortable with. The stealthier your rig, the higher success rate you should have.
Finally, remember fall is just around the corner and the fish will be coming out of the woodwork again. Until then, be patient, use your fishing knowledge, and get out and see what you can muster up. Stay dry, too.