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Thursday, Jul 31, 2014
Go Fishing

Home waters can be fish friendly and safe

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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: Ray Markham.

There is something to be said for knowing your home waters — places close to home or close to shelter, if necessary, to avoid inclement weather.

Severe thunderstorms can pop up in no time, and this week has been a good example of how beautiful weather can turn wicked quickly. On coastal waters, afternoon clouds built into waterspouts just off the beaches. Offshore anglers were left with few choices but to run to avoid the bad weather. Boats equipped with radar can at least monitor movement and see ahead, giving more notice. Inshore anglers have an advantage.

The solution: Know your home waters and where to fish in any weather circumstance. Get to know the nuances of the bottom, depth, contours, structure and current patterns. Learn where fish stage up at a given point of a tide phase. Know where to find bait. Where there’s prey, there are predators.

I look for places to fish that are less than 10 or 15 minutes from home or to safety. That’s usually about all the notice you get from an approaching storm.

In lower Tampa Bay fishing just north of the Sunshine Skyway in Joe Bay there is some shelter from the wind but close to my launch.

Recent catches of pompano, speckled trout, redfish, flounder, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish and some catch-and-release action for snook were enough to keep rods bent for my anglers. Deep grass and patches of hard bottom off Emerson Point and Rattlesnake Key are a 10-minute shot from my launch at Terra Ceia.

Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, black sea bass, juvenile gag, red grouper, flounder, pompano, trout, cobia and tarpon are there.

If high water temperatures keep you from fishing your “safe place,” leave before sunrise to beat the heat. If water is shallow, target your area during higher tides for redfish or snook around oyster bars, mangrove islands or points, and the holes and channel edges for trout and flounder.

Learn your home waters and you’ll always have a safe place to fish.

Captain Ray Markham specializes in light tackle fishing with artificial lures and charters on lower Tampa Bay out of Terra Ceia. He can be reached at (941) 723-2655, ray.markham@gmail.com or through his Web site at www.captainraymarkham.com.

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