Red tide that continued to move closer to the Terra Ceia area has caused me to make runs north into Tampa Bay to find some fish that are willing to eat. From north Sarasota Bay to lower Tampa Bay, fishing fell off the face of the earth. It’s been a struggle to find fish that will eat, but anglers willing to stick to it were rewarded with catches of snook, spotted seatrout, flounder, jack crevalle, black seabass, and ladyfish over the past week. Average numbers of fish caught are down.
It seems that ever day is different with regard to the red tide. Prevailing winds and currents control the direction of where this beast will rear its ugly head next. I’ve been lucky until the past week or so, in escaping the biggest problem. You’ve heard the saying, “Elvis has left the building.” Well, it seems the fish did about the same thing when this stuff decided to make its way northward. It doesn’t mean that we can’t still catch fish, but it does mean that we have to work much harder to find them and get them to eat.
The most productive baits this week have been CAL Jigs with Shad tails, and the quarter-ounce DOA night glow shrimp. Most days I’ve been running north up toward Ruskin, Port Manatee, and Bishop’s Harbor. But as of Saturday, very little action was to be had up to Bishop’s Harbor. Dave and Pam Clark of Hopewell, Virginia, came in town last week for a restful vacation and some fishing. The beginning of the week they took a 6-hour party boat trip out of Sarasota and said that the results of the trip were disappointing to say the least. I didn’t give them much encouraging news when they arrived to fish our half-day trip either. Our mid-morning departure caught us heading out into a rising tide for the whole trip, or at least up to the end when we were to come back in. I was determined to find them some feeding fish. Leaving Terra Ceia, I headed the Flat Back II northward under the Skyway Bridge to begin our trip at Joe Bay. We worked mangrove edges and shorelines for over nearly two hours, moving several times to seek feeding fish. The first fish was a nice fat flounder that hit our CAL Shad tail Jig. Continuing on, it wasn’t until we were nearly to Bishop’s Harbor before we caught another fish. Pam scored with a ladyfish while using a DOA Shrimp. I rarely thing of a ladyfish saving the day, but it was nice to see a fish that would eat. Trout hit Dave’s CAL Shad next, while working the deeper grass just outside the Port. On the way back, we got into several nice snook, including Dave’s first snook, caught at Mariposa Key on the CAL Shad. One monster snook cruised out of a small creek the leads to Moses’ Hole, but she had no interest in eating.
The limited success we had is a direct result of red tide. Until weather patterns change to break up this mess, fishing won’t be up to par, and until it does change, you’ll find me running further to find feeding fish. ‘Til then…catch ya later!