By Captain Travis Yaeckel
The Summer bite is on! Tampa Bay offers a multitude of different target species this time of year. If you are in search of the “Grand Slam”, now is a good time. Fishing the flats and shallow areas during the morning and evening hours for Snook, Redfish, and Trout will be most productive.
Fishing the bay and deeper areas throughout the middle portions of the day will keep the rods bent. Mangrove Snapper, Grouper, Cobia, and Mackerel are just a few of the species commonly found bay fishing this time of year. Oh, and don’t forget the majestic “Silver King” – Tarpon. Look for smaller pods of post-spawn fish to make their way inside the bay to feed on bait fish schools.
One of the highlights for the next few weeks on my charters will be Mangrove Snapper. Large numbers of fish will gather along the deeper channels and rock piles throughout Tampa Bay. These fish will congregate to spawn around the full moons in June and July.
One key to catching snapper in quantities is having a lot of chum. Pre-made chum blocks are a great way to go, but I prefer to catch my own bait and cut it up into one inch chunks. With the amount of Threadfin schools in the bay right now, they are a perfect choice to load up on for cut bait. A couple five-Gallon buckets full will normally do the trick for a few hours of Snapper fishing. Keep a continuous stream of chum even if you are not catching fish.
Eventually, if they are around you won’t be able to keep bait on the hooks. For bait, I like to use the same cut-pieces of bait that I am chumming with. In general, I use the same rig as fishing inshore for Snapper – about 24-30” of 20lb Ohero fluorocarbon leader paired with a 1/0 – 2/0 Circle hook. Free-line (drift) baits back in the chum slick and present the baits in the same fashion the chum is flowing out the back of the boat. A lot of times, these fish will eat a good ways behind the back of the boat-keep letting it drift back.
If free-lining is not working, the tide is probably not moving very much. Add a small pinch weight (split-shot) and get the baits closer to the bottom. With technology these days, a good bottom machine will be your best friend.
Captain Travis Yaeckel is a native resident of the SouthShore area and charters full time for Redfish, Snook, Trout, and Tarpon. He is owner and operator of Instinct Fishing Co.,based out of lower Tampa Bay. To book a charter, call 830-FISH or visit www.fishbyinstinct.com. Catch him on Tampa Fishing Outfitters Radio Show on Sunday mornings from 8-9 a.m. at 1040 a.m. Sports Talk the Team.