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The Bite In The Bay

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On: Mon, Jul 18, 2011 at 1:48PM | By: Captain Woody Gore

The Bite in the Bay

Comfort is an overriding factor for all species during the summer, and water temperature is a major factor because of its governing effects on a fish’s bodily functions.

Have you ever questioned why fish congregate in one particular area one day and completely disappear the next? There are many different reasons why fish relocate, but the most overlooked is water temperature. Whereas fish are cold-blooded, weather and water temperature is a controlling factor in where you find them. Every species has a temperature range they tolerate and within that range there is a preferred range or comfort zone where they are most comfortable.

Every species has a preferred temperature range and are most active within that range. When water temperatures exceed or drop below a species’ comfort range, they often become non-responsive or lethargic. Learning the tolerances of the species you target goes a long way toward helping you choose the right location, time of day, and baits and lures.

For example, water temperatures dropping in the low 60s puts Spotted Sea Trout in high spirits, but becomes very disconcerting to Snook, Redfish, and Tarpon. On the other hand, temperature in the 80s are fine for Snook, on the contrary Redfish, Tarpon and particularly Sea Trout start getting a little uncomfortable. When water temperatures reach into the 90s as is often the case in Tampa Bay start looking for deeper cooler waters.

How fish react to today’s temperature often depends on temperatures they were exposed to the day before, and even some days before that. Gradual temperature changes over several days or weeks have different effects as opposed to rapid temperature changes. Slower changes usually result in better long-term fishing, while rapid changes sometimes stimulate only a strong short-term feeding rush.

With clear skies and hot summer days the suns thermal energy quickly penetrates shallow water, allowing dark and grassy bottoms to become warmer than the white sandy ones. The difference between dark and white bottoms may be only one or two degrees, but it can make a difference when you’re looking for happy comfortable fish. A handy summertime tool is an inexpensive pool thermometer. Available at your local pool supply, they are very handy for finding the different water temperature ranges at different levels.

Snook, Redfish & Spotted Sea Trout: (Snook season is closed) During the summer, when water temperatures get really hot it’s not likely you’ll find Snook, Redfish or Trout in skinny water, except perhaps early in the mornings or late at night. Instead you’ll see them moving into deep water or suspending at different levels, depending on the thermoclines. If you do find them shallow they’ll always drop into the shade line of mangroves, especially around moving water because it’s usually cooler.

They’re eating everything in the water, but always seem partial to a fresh greenback (if you can find them), cut threadfins, cut or live pinfish, or chunked ladyfish and mullet.

Check around the passes separating the mangrove islands. Early mornings and artificial lures work well this time of year, and the key to artificial is confidence. For Snook try some of the many jerk baits or plastic shrimp rigged weedless or with 1/8 oz lead head jig. Hard lures might include MirrOlures - ( Series, or the all New MirrOMullet Surface Walker and MirrOlure Lipped Crankbait. The color selection is not nearly as important as the action, but in general white, silver with black, green with white, and red and white are good choices.

Mackerel: In Tampa Bay action is strong; there are some giant drag screamers chasing schools of threadfins. These are some of the most exciting fish you’ll ever catch on light tackle, with the larger ones average from 3 to 6 pounds. They hit hard, rip off 30 to 50 yards of line, and make you wonder what in the world is on the end of your line. Find some hard bottom and you’ll usually find huge schools of threadfins, or simply look for the birds. Toss out a bag or two of chum and get ready for some rod-bending light tackle action. Try using large greenbacks or threadfins with small wire leaders and long shank hooks. I use 50# Seaguar Fluorocarbon leader, long shank hooks.

Mangrove Snapper: Found on every rock pile or structure around Tampa Bay and fairly easy to catch. Lighter line and smaller hooks should produce a nice meal. They’re really partial to the new-hatch greenies or threadfins, but always take shrimp.

Cobia: Often found around markers that hold bait and cruising the grass flats following large rays or manatees. When fishing markers, keep a chum bag over the side; if they’re in the area this should attract them. Toss them a pinfish, greenback or threadfin and hold on.

Tarpon: Sometimes Tarpon fishing slows a bit in August as many are returning from offshore. However, the bite around Tampa Bay usually continues with resident fish haunting the light-lines around the bridge lights. They’re best fished at night or early in the mornings and fairly easy to sight cast, but difficult to land (bridge pilings).

Give Me a Call & Let’s Go Fishing
Captain Woody Gore is the area’s top outdoor fishing guide. Guiding and fishing the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Bradenton, and Sarasota areas for over fifty years; I offer world-class fishing adventures and a lifetime of memories. Single or Multi-boat Group Charters are all the same. With years of organizational experience and access to the area’s most experienced captains, I can arrange and coordinate any outing or tournament. Just tell me what you need and it’s done

My website is: CAPTAINWOODYGORE.COM. Send an email to or give me a call at 813-477-3814.


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