The story of the month of August has been “baitfish.” Huge schools of juvenile and adult sardines and glass minnows have invaded Tampa Bay and the shallower grassflats of Pinellas County in the past several weeks. Large areas of bubbled-up water are seen every day. Mackerel, ladyfish, jacks, flounder, trout and redfish are taking advantage of more food available to eat. Locating the slash-and-dash feeding fish is easy: Hovering birds means feeding activity under these concentrations of baitfish. It is fast action and usually just after sunrise and may subside by 8:30 AM. Tip: Use a heavier jig and “go deep” after the surface action ends.
In the shallows, the action has been hit or miss with redfish and speckled trout. It has been HOT and the water temperatures have mostly reflected that with a lot of readings in the low to even mid 90’s. Steady and regular rain and more cloud cover dropped the water temperatures for a short time and with slightly shorter daylight hours, fishing is only get better for these species. The afternoons held better feeding for redfish as August winds down. Floating grass has remained an obstacle and lures like the 12 Fathom SlamR and Buzz Tail Shad rigged on The Edje jighead have helped to get strikes in situations where the conventional jighead will get covered in the seagrass.
Speckled trout have been caught in the 5 to 9-foot depths in areas that have decent to strong current and baitfish schools. If the weeds aren’t a problem, the 3-inch SlamR on a 1/8-ounce jighead is ideal for catching some very nice speckled trout. Expect this Fall and Winter to have incredible action for the much larger trout trout around the entire region! Early morning has still been best to connect on the biggest trout. With a substantial amount of heat, the bite has shut down fast on the morning trips. Nighttime outings on rising tides on dock lights has help strong trout action.
Redfish are just about to get back to being the the most exciting option. They are being seen in larger and larger schools all the time and overall larger fish being encountered. They will push up a wake of water when they are on the move, searching the area to forage for food. When the wake dissipates, the fish are spreading out to feed on that flat. For this time of year it is not uncommon to have trouble getting these fish to eat. If you can spend the time and wait them out until they’re more agreeable, you will get into that action eventually.
The Flatfish action: Just not that good this year. Cyclical, this is just an off year. After two great years, maybe they are in locations I don’t know about but overall it just hasn’t been a very good year for them.
As always: Be careful out there!
“Something violent is about to happen.”