By Captain Travis Yaeckel
Tampa Bay Grand Slam! No, I’m not talking baseball. When you catch a snook, trout, redfish, and tarpon in the same day, it’s called a grand slam. Inshore it’s undeniably one of the toughest things to achieve in a single day. This time of year is ideal to achieve that goal.
Let’s start with snook. The larger breeder fish will be gathered in deep water passes and channels while they spawn on new and full moon tides. Live greenbacks or small pinfish free-lined will work best fishing inshore. Use a live large pinfish or finger mullet in deeper areas. Setup ahead of the current and free-line a tail-hooked bait back. Be extra careful when handling these fish and always fully support them horizontally. Before releasing, ensure the fish is completely revived.
With the influx of small bait on the grass flats, the trout have been fairly easy to find. The best trout fishing will occur at first light and just before dark. Focus on flats that hold bait and fish low light conditions. Topwater plugs or any live bait on a popping cork will do the trick. During the hotter parts of the day, target the deeper edges on sandbars. Fish live or artificial baits on the bottom.
Redfishing in July can be tough. Much like the trout, they can be found close to the bait pods to take advantage of the low light conditions and gorge on glass minnows or small greenbacks.
Once the sun gets up they will forage to the mangroves for shade and fishing cut bait under the bushes will be key. The best fishing will occur on the outgoing tides. Fish will congregate in troughs and potholes in good numbers to ambush prey as the flats are swept from the hill tides. Float a greenback or pinfish over the targeted area during these times.
Finally, the silver king. Tarpon can be the toughest of the day. Inside the bay, smaller pods of fish can be found patrolling the deeper shipping channels and bridges. Huge schools of threadfin herring or “fry” bait are a good indication tarpon might be around. The key to catching Tarpon is the tide. Strong outgoing tides will flush crabs and bait that cause them to feed ferociously. I recommend cut-bait on the bottom if the fish are not active and rolling. Switch to a live crab or threadfin during high flow conditions or when the fish are on the move.