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Topwaters are turning up some big fish

Posted Sep 6, 2012 by Jim Holliman

Updated Sep 6, 2012 at 05:09 PM


Captain Ray Markham ( reports a good topwater bite early on big lures like the Zara Spook, with trout, reds and snook all hitting the plugs.

“Fishing in Terra Ceia and Miguel bays has improved greatly with the cooler water temperatures,” Markham said, “and lower Tampa Bay from the Bulkhead to Joe Bay has seen consistent action. Fishing has been best in 6 to 10 feet of water with quarter-ounce CAL Jigs with shad tails.”   

Markham also said reds have been hitting in the back bays on the MirrOlure Lil’ John jerk bait rigged on 1/16-ounce jig heads. Most fish have been settling into the potholes on the falling tide and moving up around the mangroves on the rising tides. Scented lures like the Lil’ John, DOA Shrimp, and similar baits have been highly productive when worked slowly around the perimeter of mangroves and oyster bars here.

Mangrove snapper continue to be a good bet on channel edges in Tampa Bay, as well as around nearshore reefs. Best bait is a small scaled sardine fished just off bottom, but live shrimp also do the job.

Captain Van Hubbard ( said anglers visiting the inlets south of Venice for the first time since the storm passage will do well to watch for shifts in the channel, enough to cause grounding in many areas. He said redfish are biting well on the inside, with lots of fish in the slot hitting live sardines, and that mackerel are turning on again off the beaches and in the larger passes as the water clears.

The outside grass bars around Charlotte Harbor are starting to turn on for trout fishing. Topwaters at dawn and dusk will turn up the biggest fish, but there are plenty in the slot that will hit MirrOdines, Tsunami swimbaits and an assortment of jigs during the brighter hours. Start at 2-foot depths and work deeper as the sun rises — Jug Creek Shoal is a good place to start.
From Lake Okeechobee, captain Mike Shellen reports that the lake is high and murky on the north end from stormwater runoff from the Kissimmee, but most of the lake is clear and bass are hitting. He suggests spinnerbaits and topwaters on weed-bed edges at dawn, soft plastics flipped in the weed pockets during the brighter hours;

Captain Angie Douthit says changing seasons will have Big O bass hitting both topwaters like the East Texas Big Bass Lure and all the other stuff, including soft plastics in larger sizes, when winds are moderate. In stronger winds, which create a faster drift, she recommends spinnerbaits, square-bills and lipless crankbaits on the outside edges;

Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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