Land Based Anglers

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Land Based Anglers Should Have No Complaints
By CAPT. MEL BERMAN, 970-WFLA

Tampa Bay – While most anglers take to boats in pursuit of life’s lunkers, at least 40 percent of the rod and reel crowd would rather catch their fish from solid terra firma. Widely regarded as the working man’s kind of fishing, many in this shore-bound brigade can fish circles around the rest of us. We can learn a lot from these land-based overachievers such as Dogfish Tackle’s Bob Martin here in the Tampa Bay Area. Martin honed his skills to become one of the most knowledgeable landlubber anglers in our midst.

“I always look for good structure… seawalls, docks, pilings, oyster bars, drop-off, jetties, troughs, or grass flats with sand pockets,” he said. Dogfish Bob’s preferred tide is top of the outgoing. “But if I’m wade fishing, I wait for dead low tide when I can walk out and cast right to where all the fish are stacked up in the holes.”

Want to try your hand at shore fishing? Here’s a rundown of what’s biting and where this time of year around the Florida Suncoast:

At Tarpon Springs – Redfish all over the flats, within easy wading distance from the power plant.

Gandy/Weedon Island – The little wooden bridge is a sheepshead hotspot; Large drum and sheepshead around the Gandy Bridge pilings; Good trout action along the causeway.

Lower Tampa Bay – Huge reds in Bullfrog creek and Cockroach Bay. They’re finicky and won’t always bite; Trout at Simmons Park, Big Bend and Apollo Beach flats.

Manatee County – Flounder, reds, snook trout and ladyfish in Palma Sola and Terra Cea Bays. Snook, reds, trout, sheepshead, and scattered blues along the Skyway south rocks and Joe’s Island.

Sarasota County – City Island, Point O’Rocks, Ringling and Tidy Island flats holding just about everything from blues to trout, reds and jack cravalle, plus acres of frisky ladyfish.

Here’s what they’re eating:

Live shrimp, jigs (pick your favorite,) D.O.A. Shrimp, CAL Jigs and Terror-eyz, Exudes, Slimy Slugs and other plastic worms on hooks or jig heads, small gold spoons, plus a host of plugs, including most popular topwalkers, slurpers, and pull-under twitchers.

As for the wily sheepshead, they’ll chow-down on blood worms, shrimp, the innards of oysters, fiddler and sand flea crabs, jigs tipped with shrimp, and Dogfish Bob’s secret weapon, barnacles. Incidentally, Bob swears on a stack of tide tables that he’s caught mullet — in the mouth– working 12-Fathom striped tail jigs! Go figure.