Neil Taylor: Lower Tampa Bay

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The lower Bay just continues to be steady.    My original fishing grounds upon moving to Florida have continued to provide action for just about everything that we have in these waters.   This is where Kayak Fishing started for me.   I caught that bug by learning this area of Tampa Bay better than any other area when I first had access to a kayak.   The great work of FWC officers to target felony netters and keep an eye on other recreational offenders has led to better fishing for us all.

Flounder action has not exploded but there are some to be caught.   Targeting and baits are straightforward:   The 12 Fathom SlamR and Fat Sam Mullet on a 1/8 to 3/16-ounce jighead will locate and catch them.   Slow and steady, bumping the bottom anglers will have no problem catching more than a few.   Keeping a flounder??  My own tip:  Let the 12 to 13 inch fish go and just keep the biggest flatties.  The amount of meat on those “barely legal” fish is pretty meager.  Put those back to let them grow and just keep the ones that are worth the effort.

Redfish action has been pretty decent.    There are a lot of middle slot fish, some juveniles and an occasional bruiser.   A change from early in the month, the morning hours just before sunrise until about 8:00AM has been the best.   For a full month prior, the sundown time period was better.   Higher water levels are also a plus for targeting redfish.

Speckled trout can be caught pretty regularly on the 12 Fathom SlamR and Mullet.   It is not unusual to catch flounder while targeting trout and vice versa.  The late afternoons and into sundown have been higher feeding times for trout, beating the dawn feed significantly.  But fish have been caught well into the morning hours as well.

Want to know what’s going on off the Skyway piers?    To get detailed reports, check The Skyway Report on capmel.com.   Written by Paul Bristow every week, he keeps you on the heartbeat of the Skyway bite.

If you care about the fishery, regardless of what they do, do not keep a snook.   That fishery is still years away from returning to prominence.  Pulling larger fish from the population not only takes away from trophy fishing opportunities in the future, it kills female breeders for every future spawn.  If you catch a snook:  don’t take it out of the water for eight minutes taking pictures.    Don’t “get a weight” of the fish.    Don’t be part of the problem.  Enjoy the species if you cross paths, but take extra steps to make sure those fish remain in the living population.

As always: Be careful out there!

Neil Taylor
www.strikethreekayakfishing.com
(Cell) 727-692-6345
LivelyBaits@aol.com

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Neil Taylor
Full time kayak fishing guide, Neil was an advocate for conservation since before the time he started guiding. Outdoor writer, speaker and radio show host, Neil connected closely with Captain Mel Berman and did many positives with Mel to promote ethical angling. After Mel passed away, Neil managed www.capmel.com and eventually became that web site’s owner.