The Tampa Bay Times

The many miles of the Ships Channel inside Tampa Bay can at times produce extraordinary bottom fishing, more often associated with offshore.  With depths exceeding 50 ft. in some areas and much of it lined with heavy rock formation and ledges, it’s little surprise that mangrove snapper and grouper gang up and settle in along it’s edges.  Each bend in the channel is referred to as a “cut” and given a sequential letter as its name.  Beginning with “A” cut at the Skyway Bridge, then “B” cut as it angles near Port Manatee and so on as it weaves its way through the bay and ends in “K” cut at Port Tampa near the Gandy Bridge.  Each cut has numbered cans just like those that line the channel leading offshore.  Many hold large schools of bait just like offshore too.  Each cut seems to have their own characteristics.  My favorite mango and grouper spots are along A, B and C.  If kingfishing – I’ll take a long look at E, F and G cut.  Mackerel are going to be wherever you find them.  Tarpon will gang up in and around the G cut at times and a couple other fave tarpon spots in the bay are very near K cut.  Many of my ‘go to’ bottom fishing locations along the edges were old “hand me down” numbers shared by family and friends.  Others I learned by paying attention to my bottom recorder while trolling for grouper or kingfish.  Several species of fish seem to use the channel as a highway when traveling in and out of the bay.  Sometimes a mile move one way or another can make a difference in a trip.  On a recent excursion last weekend we caught over 30 mangos on a single spot right at the mouth of Tampa Bay.

Captain Jay Mastry