Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Slam time in the backcountry

Fall is fabulous for local saltwater fishing. I just love it.

It's a time when fish are hungry and the water is uncrowded. Tourist season is still months away, so there's only a few locals on the water at any given time.

This time of year, I like to branch out and fish areas that I don't get to experience often. Lately, I've been fishing Bishop Harbor and southern Tampa Bay. And I've been doing well. Fishing the incoming tide, I have been getting snook to 28 inches, redfish to 25 and spotted seatrout to 16 on Rapala Skitter Walks and plastic-tailed jigs.

Most of the action has been taking place in the shallows along the northeast side of the harbor -- partiularly around the numerous mangrove islands. The fish are hanging out around mullet schools and off the tips of the islands.

When that action subsides, I like to paddle out into southern Tampa Bay and fish a couple of sand bars that offer fabulous sight-fishing for redfish, large jack crevalle and shark. On one outing, I caught and released three reds to 28 inches in just 10 minutes. I've also been catching spotted seatrout to 18 inches, bonnethead shark and pompano to 4 pounds.

I haven't seen any tarpon, but it wouldn't surprise me if I encounter one soon.

As the weather and water cool, this area is going to heat up.

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