Fishing in South Shore waters has been everything but sub-par as of late. On recent trips out, I've seen a large variety of species caught on both the flats and out near the middle of the bay.
Planning your trips around the tide charts and moon phases have been key. Getting an early start and hitting the flats in the morning and moving into the bay to deeper water as the water temperature heats up is a very successful strategy as we head into the hottest time of the year.
Tarpon are still very abundant in Tampa Bay and surrounding waters. Fish are still hanging in the passes and bridges. Fishing around strong tides that occur on the new and full moons will be your best time to catch a Silver King. The baits of choice have been pass crabs around the passes and threadfin herring in and around the beaches and bridges.
Mangrove snapper have also been a hot commodity. Most artificial reefs and wrecks are starting to hold big schools of fish. Using a Calusa 10 foot- and quarter-inch mesh bait net will keep the smaller baits from getting stuck in the net. When targeting mangrove snapper downsize your leader to 20-pound Fluorocarbon and use a Daiichi No. 1 circle hook to match up to the bait size. Mangroves make for a great table fair and have a minimum size of 10 inches and a bag limit of five fish per angler.
Sharks are also invading South Shore waters.
Using big chunks of cut fish soaked on the bottom will work great. Using heavy wire for leader will keep these toothy beasts on the hook and heavy spinning gear will bring them boat side. Great areas to start looking for sharks are around the edges of the ship channels and under water shoals, markers and artificial reefs.
Snook fishing has also picked up in recent trips. Fish are feeding heavy and frequent as they get ready for their summer spawn. Greenbacks are the bait of choice but don't be afraid to switch over to cut bait on the slower tides. Optimum targeted areas have been the beaches, spoil Islands and the outer flats.
Remember snook populations are still way down so if you decide to target them make sure to handle these fish very carefully.