Mangrove snapper sting still good for Tampa Bay area anglers
Fish of the week
Mangrove snapper: The mangrove snapper sting continues to be very good for anglers in the Tampa Bay area and elsewhere.
Strike zone1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Elsewhere
1: At Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, mangrove snapper was again the most consistent catches this week. A few speckled trout and some sheep were also caught. Sharks, including black tips and a nurse shark, also came to the tracks this week, reports Big Pier 60 Bait & Tackle (727-462-6466).
2: At Madeira Beach, red grouper bite is quite stable, there are a few sizes of keepers, but a lot of shorts. Large mangrove and lane snapper bite around the 60ft mark. The hogfish are spread out and random with the hot water. There are a few mahi here and there. Further offshore, a good number of triggerfish have been caught since the start of the season. The bite of gag and red grouper is constant, but anglers should note that red grouper season ends at the end of the month, reports Captain Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina (727-393-1947).
3: John’s Pass, the mangrove snappers are absolutely thick in the pass and will bite just about any structure. The snook fishing is good and there is plenty in the pass too. Good sized sheep are still biting around the docks. Flounder, speckled trout and a few mackerels bite the pier. There are also plenty of sharks, mainly blacktip and pier spinners. Trout also bite around bridge and dock lights at night. Rockfish are biting inland around the islands and a few tarpon are still rolling around the pass, Hubbard reports.
4: At Fort De Soto Park, there are plenty of mangrove and snub snapper around the marina and docks. Good sized sheep are also caught and a few plaice have finally appeared. The flats in the area are loaded with bonnethead sharks. Tarpon Key still produces a good rockfish bite, but a lot of fish are below the slot size. The trout bite is good and most fish are around 15 inches. Some flounders bite into the boat ramp area. The Gulf Pier produces a good number of Spanish mackerels. Many snappers, whiting, sheep and trevallies are also at the pier. Most snook left the beach and headed back inside. Bunces Pass produces mainly whiting and trevallies, reports Capt. Claude Hinson of Tierra Verde Bait and Tackle (727-864-2108).
5: Around the Sunshine Skyway and Lower Tampa Bay, gag grouper and mangrove snapper sting is good at the moment in the bay. They bite live scale sardines on 1/8 oz. jigheads on the bottom. The bite is best on the slower part of the tides. Snook bites in potholes on lower tides and in mangroves with higher water. Some tripletail spawn on channel markers inside the bay. Good amounts of Spanish mackerel appear in lower Tampa Bay. As for live bait, scaly sardines were hard to come by last week. This has many guides perplexed because the little hatching baits should be all over lawns, but they just don’t show up, reports Palmetto Capt. John Gunter (863-838-5096). The fishing south of the bridge was absolutely “on fire”. Mangrove snapper are all over the reefs in the bay, as well as any good hard bottom ledge that has good moving water, reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters (941-705-3160.
6: At Anna Maria’s, the mangrove snapper holds just about any structure. Bridges and rocks in the area around Longboat Pass produce good numbers. The mangrove snapper limits also bite on any of the inshore reefs and hard bottom ledges. Some tripletail have appeared on crab pot buoys, reports Captain Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters (941-705-3160.
7: In St. Petersburg, the mangrove snapper will bite just about any structure. The Skyway, other area bridges, rock piles and reefs are all in production. Snapper and gag grouper also bite at the edge of the shipping channel. The docks around Big Bayou are also good for snapper. A good number of pompanos showed up this week at the Bunces Pass approach bridge, Skyway. The system of bars south of the bridge is particularly productive. Blind Pass also produces a fair amount of pompano. Pinellas Point and the docks have been good for snook and rockfish. Weedon Island also produces a good number of these two fish. Some tarpon are still out there, mostly in backwaters and bayous, reports Larry Mastry at Mastry’s Tackle (727-896-8889).
8: At the north end of Tampa Bay, a fair number of mangrove snappers are still found around the bridge and most structures in the area. A few sheep also bite. Black drum schools still hold at the Frankland and Gandy bridges. Snook and rockfish sting is good on flats around Picnic Island, Cypress Beach and Weedon Island. Rockfish also sting around the causeway and upper bay. Good numbers of speckled trout appeared on the deeper edges of the flats. There are a lot of shorts, but a few goalkeepers are in on it. Spanish mackerel appeared early in the morning around Gandy and the deeper points around Picnic Island. Tripletail bites the markers in the bay, but there are no reports of cobia. Large schools of crevalle jack also roam the bay around Gandy, reports Gandy Bait & Tackle (813-839-5551).
• At Homosassa, it’s August, that’s the time of year for rockfish in the Big Bend area. Look for the schools of mules and you will find the red ones. When rockfish are schooled, just about any bait will produce. Gold spoons, like an Eppinger Rex, are great bait. A wobbly spoon that mimics a dying pinfish will produce multiple strikes and also cast a “country mile,” reports Captain William Toney of Homosassa Inshore Fishing Charters (352-621-9284). Most structures, including rocks and natural ledges, down to the channel markers, are home to a guardian-sized mangrove snapper. Live shrimp are the best bait, whether freeline or on a jig head. Keep an eye out for all the counters for the triple tail. The deepest buoys produced the most fish, Toney reports.
• In Fort Pierce, offshore, the mahi bite has slowed, but some trevallies are biting at the 50-80ft bar. A few sailfish were caught south of the inlet, down to about 120 feet. Bottom bite is slow with cold water. Mangrove and mutton snappers bite shallow at 30 to 50 feet and some cobia are also at this depth. At the entrance, the whiting is in the surf, but the seaweed is thick. Snook bites into the creek on live bait during the day and jigs at night. Inside, the mangrove snapper sting is good around the decks. Some routes and sheep are also biting, but most are short. There’s some decent trout biting in the river on live bait along the deeper mangroves, reports Clint Walker at the St. Lucia Fisheries Center (772-465-7637).
Compiled by Michael Wilson / Ledger Correspondent