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Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Go Fishing: Cool weather means a hot flounder bite

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GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Frank Sargeant.

Captain Ray Markham reports cooler weather has turned on the flounder bite in lower Tampa Bay. Client Jack Flanagan, of Bradenton, and friends put about 20 flatties in the boat with some more than 20 inches, Markham said. They also caught “loads” of trout, most undersized but a fair number of keepers, plus some slot reds, blues to 4 pounds, and dozens of break-offs on jigs as both Spanish and blues mauled the lures around bait schools. He said there were plenty of jack crevalle and ladyfish around anytime the “eating” fish slowed; www.captainraymarkham.com.

Captain Sergio Atanes continues to find all the big mackerel his clients can handle around bait schools in lower Tampa Bay; www.reelfishy.com.

Captain Van Hubbard reports a big school of bull reds sighted around Boca Grande Pass this past week, lots of Spanish in close and kings farther out, plus even a few leftover tarpon. He said snook and redfish action remains good on the inside, and plenty of trout willing but too small; www.captvan.com.

In general, anglers can find all the macks they want roughly from Port Manatee to Egmont at present, while the last markers in the shipping channel and waters beyond have plenty of kings. The best bite is usually the first hour or two of daylight and again at sunset — look for diving birds.

As the mullet begin to school for the spawning run, big reds and trout will mix with them — look for these fish running the outside of Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor bars, where the shallow flats drop off to deeper open bays.

George “Ol Bear” Henson of Plant City reports loading up on jumbo mullet with his castnet at the Cross Florida Barge Canal last week. He said some of the mullet were more than 16 inches long and loaded with fat. This is likely to continue until a strong cold front moves through, pushing the mullet to their offshore spawning run.

American Bass Anglers has released their 2014 schedule with five events on Florida lakes slated — visit www.americanbassanglers.com for details.

Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at franksargeant@charter.net

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