I love the south shore. Little known fact: The first place I went fishing in Tampa Bay: South Shore. And that exact spot remains my favorite place anywhere across the region. I probably should have just moved down there.
Trout: the numbers of fish around the south shore is impressive. Flounder action has gotten better- but they are not all in yet. “The Rest” will include the biggest and will happen any time now. 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.
The Skyway Pier are on fire 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. 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.
Trout action got interesting down in the southshore region. The action on 16 inch fish is strong. Move around to try to locate even bigger fish but there are plenty of lower slot fish in this area. An occasional giant, you also have to deal with some undersize fish in the search for larger trout. That is, as we say it “Just the way it is.”
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.
As always: Be careful out there!