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Moving Water Creates Feeding Zones

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On: Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 11:19AM | By: Captain Ray Markham


Fish powered up in feeding zones this past week on the moving water–spawned by last Wednesday’s full moon. Fish that were lethargic in the warm water began feeding as the currents moved baits past their noses. It’s the conveyor belt phenomenon fish get in line for when the tides are cranking. The fact is that most fish, and particularly the big fish, will line up in the pathway where currents are moving the best, and lie in waiting for struggling baitfish, crabs, shrimp, or whatever they are feeding as they move to them instead of them having to expend energy to search and chase down food.

This feeding technique is common to most species, and positioning yourself or your boat in areas where points stand out against a shoreline, or where small passes through mangrove islands squeeze water down creating a vortex that speeds up the water moving through these small outlets will put you in the feeding zone.

Water flow is one of the most important factors when searching for fish that feed opportunistically. Snook and spotted seatrout are two of our most common game fish that feed this way. On the strong outgoing tide late in the afternoons and evenings this week I targeted such areas. The results were pretty predictable. While snook season is closed to protect our remaining stocks as they rebuild from winter freezes a couple of years ago, these fish have very low release mortality when handled correctly and minimally.

Working mangrove points from Joe Bay to Bishop’s Harbor, a number of nice snook were caught on top-water lures. A few of the top water lures we used include the MirrOlure MirrOmullet, MirrOlure Top Dog, and Rapala Skitterwalk. All of these ‘walk-the-dog’ style baits elicit violent strikes from game fish. Our largest snook was 28-inches, but most are still in the mid-twenty-inch range.

Trout schooled up between ‘humps’ on the shallow flats where water on the outgoing tide had to bend around the shallow hump or over it. The path of least resistance was around the hump, parting the water and pushing it between the humps, increasing the velocity of the water. The DOA Shrimp was without a doubt, the top lure going here. We would cast the lure up current, allowing it to drift back toward us. A slight twitch of the lure as it settled toward the bottom would draw strikes from the fish that were staged up in the area to feed. I always add a Woodie’s Rattlers worm rattle to my DOA Shrimp when fishing the bait this way. The slight clicking sound not only draws attention to the fish, but also is a sound fish are programmed to associate with food. Shrimp make clicking sounds with their mandibles as they feed, and also as they kick their tails. This added sound made these shrimp just more delectable than they otherwise would be.

Redfish continue to be the top draw here on south Tampa Bay and around Terra Ceia Bay. Schooling fish make for some banner action. Fishing CAL Jigs with Shad tails, Eppinger Rex Weedless Gold or Copper colored spoons, and the MirrOlure Lil’ John, we are managing to put good numbers of nice reds in the boat on every trip we target them.

Coming off the full moon, the water flow will begin slowing down this week, and the action will remain steady, but at a much more laid back pace. I’ll be working areas where small mosquito ditches, creeks, and mouths of canals exit areas for snook, the potholes and pass areas for trout, and mullet schools for redfish this week. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

Capt. Ray Markham runs the Flat Back II out of Terra Ceia, Florida specializing in light tackle fishing with artificial baits using spin, plug, and fly tackle and can be reached for charter via the contact information below.

(941) 228-3474


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