Red tide lingers, but fish can be found and caught
Although the red tide continues to linger in our area both inshore and offshore fishing are holding their own. Most inshore fishing is occurring north of the Manatee Bridge. As for the offshore bite, the water seems to be less toxic once you get past three miles offshore. Of course, this can change day to day depending on wind and currents, bit so far this is how it’s been.
I’m finding a surplus of fish ranging from the north of the Manatee River north to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. On my recent excursions on Southernaire Fishing Charters, although they have been a little sporadic due to the weather and red tide, we are catching a lot of fish. Spotted seatrout seem to be the most abundant. On some mornings, we’ve had as many as 60 trout reeled to the boat. Snook fishing is proving productive. Keeper-size fish are a little hard to come by but there are plenty of those 20-24 inchers around to keep my clients busy.
Fishing structure in Tampa Bay is also providing great action. There is an abundance of Spanish mackerel in the bay which are great adversaries on light tackle. Also this batch of mackerel are consistently large with fish up to 28 inches being caught. When done catching mackerel, we are switching over to mangrove snapper, which are also abundant right now. A couple of handfuls of dead shiners thrown over the side of the boat is resulting in numerous snapper rising up from their hiding places in the reef to feed on the free food floating by. To catch these snapper, I’m rigging with some 15-pound fluorocarbon for leader and a small No. 4 hook. No weight. I’m then using a small shiner as bait and free-lining it back in the chum slick to get a bite. Limits of these tasty little snapper are being taken in this fashion.
Lastly, as far as a red tide report, I’m learning that most of it is concentrated in Sarasota Bat and along the Gulf beaches of Longboat Key. Some fishers are still fishing these areas, although every excursion can be a gamble. You never know where exactly the high concentrations of the bloom will exist.