Fishing Report October 17, 2018

Variety of species — for the cooler and catch-and-release found in Tampa Bay

Fishing to the east of Anna Maria Island in Tampa Bay and its surrounding waters is producing a variety of species.

Fishing structures around the Sunshine State Skyway Bridge is yielding Spanish mackerel, bluefish and jack crevalle as well as limits of mangrove snapper.

Luckily, red tide is staying out of Tampa Bay which is creating a refuge for these fish. On the flats, snook, redfish and trout are taking refuge in Tampa Bay. Don’t forget that both snook and redfish are closed to harvest until further notice from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. If you get caught with either fish in the cooler, you will get a ticket — no excuses.

On my own trips  I’m finding great action on the flats for catch-and-release snook and redfish. Free-lining live shiners over flats of 2-4 feet is producing some great rallies on both species.

When searching for fish to eat, I’m fishing deep grass flats for spotted seatrout. Most catches are falling just under the 15-inch minimum but with a little persistence, I’m managing to get a few slot-size fish in the cooler.

Other species for eating include mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel. For the snapper, I’m catching most around structure in Tampa Bay, although on some days, I’m finding limits to be caught on the flats. As for the mackerel, structure is the best bet.