The Tampa Bay Times

Minimum wind and cloudless skies elevate a fly fisher’s chance for a good day when fishing our west coast. Current windy conditions make casting more difficult, unless very experienced, and clouds interfere with sight casting opportunities because you can’t see the fish in the shallows where we do most of our fly fishing. Dirty water and rough boating conditions add to the difficulty. We are fortunate in having many rivers that empty into Tampa Bay as well as the Gulf. A boat or paddle craft is necessary to allow mobility as well as safety. Rivers get narrower as you head upstream and offer wind protection from tree-covered banks. Most fish we are interested in will be structure oriented. Your casting now will be to fallen trees, undercut banks, points of land, sandbars, mouths of small creeks, and tree cover close to the water surface. Any interruption in normal shorelines should be investigated with probing accurate casts. Outgoing tides are generally preferred especially where baitfish are forced out of small creeks and can locate in adjacent deeper water. Moving water is very important to success. Equipment is similar to fishing the flats. An 8-weight rod rigged with a floating weight forward line would be the first choice rigged with a popper or shallow running baitfish imitation that duplicates available forage in size and color.  Baby tarpon, snook, jacks, and redfish will be the primary targets.  Another 9-weight rod with a clear sink tip and weighted fly will really cover deeper water where larger fish often will lurk. If snook and baby tarpon are targeted, include a 30-pound hard monofilament shock tippet to prevent break-offs.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters Fly Guy in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at and (727) 504-8649.

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