With vast amounts of baitfish gathering along the beaches of Anna Maria Island, throughout Tampa Bay and its adjacent waters, fall fishing is right around the corner. As we begin to experience these cold fronts, both inshore and offshore species are starting to become active. Throughout the inshore waters of Tampa Bay, Spanish mackerel are staring to make a presence. Along with them are a variety of other migratory fish including jack crevalle, ladyfish, blue runners and bluefish. Using light spinning tackle on this bite is entertaining. All of these species readily take a bait and they all fight well for their size. They are attracted to both live bait and artificials which makes them attainable to all anglers. For those who chose lures, I suggest jigs and spoons. Small jigs in white, pink or chartreuse will get the job done. As for using spoons, anything silver should do the trick. On the flats of Tampa Bay, catch and release species — snook ,redfish and spotted seatrout are apparent and hungry. Casting free-lined shiners over shallow flats is resulting in snook and redfish. For the trout, deeper grass flats are best.
Moving offshore, reports of pelagic species — kingfish, cobia, amberjack and blackfin tuna are becoming more frequent. These species can be taken on both live baits or artificials. Live bait presentations are working best, although lures such as top-water poppers are attracting a bite. Bottom fishing with bait while offshore is offering a bite especially on yellowtail and mangrove snapper. Red and gag grouper are being caught.
On my Southernaire charters, I’m seeing vast numbers of spotted seatrout being caught. On some of the deeper grass flats I’m seeing 20-30 trout caught in one area. Are most of these are keeper-size, which is encouraging to see if the FWC opening up harvest on them again.
Targeting catch-and-release snook along the mangrove shorelines is productive with most catches falling 20-30 inches. Catch-and-release redfish are being caught in basically the same as the snook. Schooling redfish are available if you know where to look. Fishing structure in Tampa bay is a good bet as I’m seeing as many Spanish mackerel as once person would want to catch This bite is quick and abundant. Mixed in with the macks are jacks, ladyfish bluefish and come nice keeper-size mangrove snapper.