Tampa Bay fishing can be defined as an embarrassment of riches. From an inshore standpoint, the only fish we don’t have are bonefish and permit (we have a wreck permit). This past weekend I was able to partake in the variable cornucopia of species and situations that we are afforded.
Tampa Bay Fishing: Friday Night Lights Edition
Friday night my friend Jarek and I took his Jon Boat out to catch tarpon off docklights. These glowing underwater lights are fish magnets, you’ll see bait swirling around and being chased by predator fish. This visibility is what makes it such a great angling opportunity.
However, just because you see the fish doesn’t mean that they can’t see you. Fish on lights can be surprisingly wary at times, this was the case for us. While we did hook seven tarpon, many more turned us down. Jarek was able to bring a very nice fish to the boat.
Tampa Bay Fishing: Flats Time
From a high tide at night, I switched to a morning low. Here I was in search of redfish, snook, black drum and trout. This time I was joining my friend Chris on his Maverick polling skiff.
In this skinny water paradise, there were not many places for these typically elusive gamefish to hide. As we silently polled along, I spotted a redfish lazily creeping in front of the skiff. I led the fish and slowly maneuvered my fly into the fish’s path. Right as they were about to cross paths, I stripped my fly line causing the fly to hop off the bottom thus catching the attention of the drum and causing him to eagerly suck it down. While not the biggest redfish in the world, it still fought with great tenacity.
A short while later after a bit more polling, Chris called out a red sneaking out of the mangroves. I repeated the previous process of leading the fish, cutting it off and then presenting my fly at the last second.
Choose Your Own Adventure
As I said, we have an embarrassment of riches here in the Tampa Bay Area. I haven’t even talked about offshore fishing, but from an inshore standpoint, you can catch probably a dozen different gamefish species in a given day in just as many different scenarios and with completely different tactics – we’re very blessed. However, there is a place that is even more unique than Tampa Bay, for numerous reasons, fishing aside. That place is Key West. I recently spent five days in the Conch Republic fishing and hobnobbing around town. You can hear all about that trip here.
Until next time, tight lines.