GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of the local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Frank Sargeant.
Captain Van Hubbard reports good action on Spanish and small kings around the artificial reefs off Boca Grande. He anchored uptide and put over a frozen bag of chum, plus chumming a bit with sardines, to turn on the bite. The fish took threadfins and sardines. Some big cudas are also prowling these reefs, he said. On the inside, Hubbard found lots of trout and blues for his clients.
Channel edges are turning up the occasional big snook, over 36 inches, Hubbard said. Tarpon are scattered but still catchable on occasion; www.captvan.com.
In Tampa Bay, fishing small live sardines on rock outcrops at the edges of the ship channel will turn up some big mangrove snapper this week. These are much larger than the little guys typically found around mangrove creeks, averaging 3 to 4 pounds — great eating and a great fight.
Snook are prowling the beaches at Anna Maria and Fort DeSoto. Look for sloughs and deeper areas along the beaches and fish them with live shrimp or sardines. Remember, this is all catch-and-release — the season is closed.
Trout action is good on the deeper flats with kelp grass or hard bottom. Fish areas 6-10 feet deep with CAL jigs or Tsunami 4-inch split-tail swimbaits. A few big trout are still showing up on the flats at daybreak, where they'll whack a big, noisy topwater. One of the best at this type of fishing is Captain Ray Markham, www.captainraymarkham.com.
In fresh water, Kissimmee, Hatchineha, Toho and Okeechobee are all in summer patterns, with most fish found along deep hydrilla edges where they'll take plastic worms or live shiners. In areas with flowing water, as in front of the dam on Kissimmee, a topwater fished at dawn will turn up some strikes. Waters below the dam can also be very good; throw a deep diving crankbait here.
If the rains continue, seek out creek mouths and drain pipes; bass stack up on these areas whenever the water flows and a plastic worm is all you need to connect.