Much of the area I would usually fish still has some Red Tide issues that are in a state of flux. Wind, water temperature, tides and nutrients keep us guessing to find suitable areas to fish. Many of our recent trips have been to rivers where a fresh water influx has the water in pristine condition. Some areas of Tampa
Bay are free of this nuisance, but marginal areas are a constant challenge. One of my best indicators of healthy water is the presence of baitfish. Predator fish and fish eating birds have to eat to live. Their activity is a key. Baitfish always seem to be present around bridges, some of ours have very deep water, and all have large supports that harbor bait. With a fly rod, even with sinking tip lines, full sinking lines and weighted flies fishing deep is a challenge even when we have fish located. Having your fly in front of a fish’s nose becomes more difficult, but necessary, as water gets deep. We have found that docks close to bridges have been very effective especially during lower tides. Snook, trout and reds are rarely in the extreme shallows but seem most prevalent in the deepest water of the dock. The low tide means careful casting far under the dock and allows our weighted baitfish pattern flies to then be worked near the deeper pilings where we have been finding most fish. Longer docks will have more deep supports and older structures have more subsurface hangouts to harbor baitfish and their predators. Cast under and work around boat lifts. A large boat on a lift usually means deeper water. Use the moving tide to effectively work the area, casting up tide to allow your flies to swing into the fish holding hot spot.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpatdamico.com and (727) 504-8649.