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Weekly Tampa Bay fishing report

Posted May 25, 2012 by TBO.com

Updated May 25, 2012 at 10:23 AM

By JIM LEE

Fishing results and tips for freshwater and saltwater spots, including Tampa Bay and area locations.

Freshwater

Pan fish catches are easing off a bit as we move away from the dark of the moon. The next full moon is June 4th. In the meantime, troll beetle spins or other similar lures and pick up good numbers of bluegill and shellcracker.

Bass action remains excellent in the summer mode. Fish early and late, but don’t forget night bass fishing. You can troll or drift artificial worms in the deeper haunts or wait until the dewfall and fish top water lures for the big boys that finally come near the shoreline. Lakes Panasoffkee, Okeechobee and Istokpoga are always good for bass action. Live shiners seem to get the larger fish most of the time.     

KISSIMMEE CHAIN: Grape Hammock Fish Camp, (863) 692-1500: Bluegill and shellcracker are still being caught, but catches are spotty. Bass action is excellent. Limits of bass up to 6 and 8 pound range are being taken. Lake Kissimmee bass catches are very consistent.                 

LORIDA-ISTOKPOGA: Trails End Fishing Resort guide service, (863) 655-0134: Great pan fish catches along with bass makes angler’s day this week. Bluegill and shellcracker are not hard on the beds, but can be caught in decent numbers if you work at it. Bass catches to 6 pounds was common.                 

LAKE OKEECHOBBEE: Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort, 800-473-6766: Despite a few windy and rainy days, bass catches have been up to par for the most part. Good catches to 8 pounds are the norm in South Okeechobee. Live shiner fishing is finding most of the big bass.         

LAKE ROUSSEAU and the Withlacoochee: Captain Frank Bourgeois, (352) 666-6234: Captain Frank is on vacation in the Florida Keys this week and is having a fun fishing trip. He is fishing with only a fly rod for bonefish and barracuda.                           

LAKE PANASOFFKEE: Pana Vista Lodge, (352) 793-2061: You can always catch a bluegill/shellcracker dinner here. However the bass action has been the main attraction. The next full moon however will be a different story and cabins will be booked. Bass catches have been very good.         

Saltwater

Tarpon is the new main event and will run all summer. Tarpon catches are getting stronger, as most guides that specialize in tarpon have shifted to them. Large tarpon moved through the Homosassa area last week with more to likely follow. The boat battle at Boca Grand has begun with boats so thick you could walk from one to the other. Over 200 boats in the pass make for an interesting day. Tarpon, bull sharks and hammer head sharks abound there now. Tarpon are also at the Skyway Bridge and moving along the beaches.

The summer cobia are here as are the flounder. While trout fishing have a cobia rig ready. Permit are moving on the wrecks and soon may be closer in on the artificial reefs. In state waters out to 9 miles you can catch red, black, Yellowfin, yellowmouth, rock hind and scamp grouper. The bad news is that most of what grouper you will find will be undersized red grouper.

Mackerel are a good easy catch. You can find them in the passes or just troll a Clark or similar spoon. Fish the outgoing tide.

Lower Tampa bay still has cobia, bluefish, mackerel, trout and snook. Snook have moved outside in many areas and are also moving to the barrier islands. Fish the outside beaches at daylight in 6 inches of water. Fly rods work well here. You can also find snook in the backwaters around Ruskin. 

Offshore, there is no report on gag grouper. Soon they will move to deeper water if they haven’t already. Red grouper are still mostly only 18 inches and under and to keep one they have to be 20 inches.                             

10,000 ISLANDS: Captain Corey McMillin, (239) 695-4420: NO REPORT. 

SARASOTA: Captain Rick Grassett, (941) 350-9790 or (941) 923-7799: Tarpon turned their nose up at live crabs on one trip. Another fly trip was about the same. However for three days straight, he jumped a lot of tarpon with several hookups on live crabs. Fishing the Sarasota Bay, trout blues and redfish were taken. 

RUSKIN: South Shore Bait & Tackle, (813) 641-2010: Mackerel, trout, bluefish, flounder and redfish were the catch this week. But the catch of the day were a group of big mackerel.

SKYWAY AREA: Captain Sergio Atanes, (813) 973-7132: A great place to fish. With the high number of species available a day on the water in this area can be fantastic. Fish under the Skyway Bridge for tarpon. Use an anchor buoy for releasing your boat if you have one. It is faster than pulling your anchor and with a big tarpon on, seconds count. Fish the islands outside the bridge for redfish. Trout, flounder, redfish, mackerel and bonnet head sharks are still being caught.                   

LOWER TAMPA BAY: Captain Tony Frankland, (813) 915-8541: The Ruskin back country is the go-to place for snook. Fish the creeks and blind cast into the nooks and crannies you find there. However excellent action is happening out in the bay with mackerel, trout, and bluefish.                                                   

UPPER TAMPA BAY: Cody’s Bait & Tackle, (813) 884-3100: Redfish are at the creek mouths, the residential canals and canal ‘A’. This is the normal places for reds all summer. Snook will also be found in these areas, but fish the outgoing tide at the mouths of the creeks. Fish all along the ‘A’ canal for snook… Some bull sharks are still in the upper bay. Swim with care.                 

SOUTH PINELLAS: Captain Paul Hawkins, (727) 560-6762: Tarpon are on the move which means now is the time for you to catch them. Live bait, lures or flies all work well. Regardless, a 100 pound tarpon on any tackle is a formidable adversary. Captain Paul is on top of the tarpon, so if you want to add a 100-pound fish to your trophy list, go for them now. Also look for trout, redfish, mackerel and pompano.                                 

FISHING PIERS: South Pier, (941) 729-0117: Expect the unexpected. Pier fishing offers most of the current species being caught in the bay. Fish the pier for Mangrove snapper, trout, redfish, perhaps a flounder, Spanish mackerel or even a stray tarpon. Grouper are off limits to keep. 

MID-PINELLAS PARTY BOATS: Offshore bottom fishing from Hubbard’s John’s Pass Marina and Kingfish dock, (727) 393-1947: Gag grouper are not in season. But catching is still fun. If it is fishing you want, the gag grouper bite is fantastic this time of year and there are plenty of them. Mostly small red grouper are available by the ton, but are also on the no keep list as well as all other groupers. Gray snapper are big and there are plenty of them to keep. Go offshore for a deep sea fishing extravaganza. Fish the deeper waters for great mangrove snapper catches. Black sea bass, porgies are also on the list.           

GANDY BAIT & TACKLE: (813) 839-5551: The Gandy Bridge is closed to fishing. However, Gandy Bait and Tackle is the place to go in this area for live bait and tackle and information. Weedon Island fishing is good with a lot of redfish taken by wade fishermen. Trout, redfish, and snook are also being caught. Tarpon are beginning to move into Tampa Bay, so get ready to rock a 100 pound fish.                 

CLEARWATER TO DUNEDIN: Captain Brian Mathey, (727) 667-8291: Fish the passes and beach for tarpon. Snook are on the outside of the barrier islands. Mackerel are thick in the passes. Chum on the outgoing tide. This area is prone to good redfish catches in the summer months on the shoreline. Smaller trout are on the flats, but the larger trout will be in the passes and deeper spots. Mackerel will cut you off, so be sure to use the proper leader, like Tyger leader.               

TARPON SPRINGS: Captain Rich Knox, (727) 376-8809 or (727) 808-6688: Tarpon are on the outside of the barrier islands. Redfish, summer flounder and cobia can be found on the flats. A few trout and snook will also be found. Snook have moved to the outside of the creeks and rivers and on the outside of the barrier islands. 

KEATON BEACH (PERRY): One More Cast guide service, (850) 584-9145: Great trout catches reported with pictures to prove it. Most of the trout are being taken under a Cajun Thunder Float in 3.5 to 4.5 feet deep water. Among the legal size trout, many were over 21 inches. Some mackerel and redfish are also being taken. Fish live pinfish, top water plugs and under Thunder Spin floats for best results.

HERNANDO BEACH: Captain Frank Bourgeois, (352) 666-6234: Captain Frank is on a businessman’s holiday and is fishing in the Florida Keys. Tune in next week.

WEEKIWACHEE: Captain Steve Soults, Angling Adventures (352) 686-0853: NO REPORT.                               

FLY FISHING: Tarpon off the beaches, snook on the beaches makes it the best of both worlds. The bigger trout are best caught in the drops and deeper waters. Ambush a tarpon on the beaches and passes. Make sure you have at least a 10 weight or better fly rod for those big boys. Go thrash the water.

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