By Neil Taylor,

An impending environmental disaster. Piney Point. The phosphate industry strikes again. They were pivotal in a past huge Red Tide. Now, a direct spill into Tampa Bay could happen at any time. How is this possible?

The fault lies at the feet of your state legislature. At the feet of those who bend to the will of the “Chamber of Commerce”.

The lower Bay area continues to produce incredibly steady action.   What was already “good” action on and speckled trout, flounder- the numbers of fish around the south shore is impressive.   Flounder action has exploded with not just big numbers but a glut of fish in the 14 to 17-inch range.   A few around 20 inches have also been caught.   They were missing for five years.   The 12 Fathom SlamR on a 1/8 to 3/16-ounce jighead is a flounder catching machine.   Slow and steady, ridden along bumping the bottom, fat flounder will pounce on the lure when it goes over their nose.   The flounder are very aggressive and have been following lures, something that is not always the case.    Notorious for dropping lures, let it flutter back down when they let go.   You will be amazed how many flounder you will catch that strike a lure until they are finally hooked.  We caught a bunch of fish over 20 inches each time out on the south shore.  

The Skyway Pier are very strong for mackerel.    The Silly Willy/Teaser rig is the best kept secret for hooking and catching a lot of mackerel in a short period of time.    And it is much easier than slinging and cranking those spoons.  Landing technique:  It takes some practice but if you lean over the side, reel up all the slack and then launch the fish upward swiftly, the mackerel will come over the rail.    Take care not to dangle fish on the surface for very long or you will be hooking pelicans.   The Skyway piers have nets available for helping injured birds.

Redfish action is best sunrise and sunset.    Not terrific, if you’re lucky you might find some.  Trips in the evening and pre-dawn have held the very best action when the sunlight is minimal.   An occasional accidental snook will strike a lure meant for a redfish.   The 3-inch mullet is the best lure to throw to redfish and you can use your favorite colors.   Greengo, rootbeer gold glitter and Shimmer Gold have been great choices.  Keep the 4.5 inch Buzz Tail Shad handy, if redfish are not in a Mullet mood, try the Buzzer.  

Trout action got interesting down in the southshore region.   The action on 18 to 19 inch fish is strong.   Move around to try to locate even bigger fish but there are plenty of lower slot fish in this area.

Sharks have invaded the Bay.   This will be an exceptional year for blacktip sharks.   The deeper troughs hold a lot of sharks in the summer months and this year will have more than usual.   Blacktips will eat lures but can be easily caught using whole, live baits like oversize pinfish.    In other areas, they were eating silver trout that were being reeled in.   Be cautious when handling a hooked shark.   They can contort and bend and will try to defend themselves when they are being handled.    A long-handled dehooking tool is a good investment.

If you encounter snook, leave them alone or at least commit to not harvesting them regardless of the regulations.   An influx of new fish arriving from other areas means a slightly better chance of encountering this species.   I witnessed people keeping fish out of water for more than three minutes.   A tough species, this just shouldn’t happen.  Keep them in the water before you get a picture and handle them with extra care.  Every fish is vital to the future.

In a battle that is never really over: 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.  Their continued efforts to catch felony netters are making the south shore region return as a great fishery again.   But help them out:  Keep your eyes peeled for illegal activity and make a call if you see poaching, 888-404-FWCC (3922).  Your tips will help make cases and you could be eligible for a reward.  The fishery survives the pressure of poaching, a lot of anglers and just continues to be a great location to go.  

As always: Be careful out there!

Neil Taylor
Owner and guide:
(Cell) 727-692-6345
Owner and site administrator:

Neil Taylor
Latest posts by Neil Taylor (see all)