Bottom Fishing to Find Cooler Waters

Finding Cooler Waters

The waters in and around Tampa Bay will continue to hover between 85 and 90 degrees for the next 6 weeks.  If you are in an area that receives more sunshine than rain for a week then the temps will climb.  Only when we have a tropical system or a period of prolonged rainfall will the water cool at all.  The shallow grass flats will contain some of the warmest water due to the dark bottom and lack of depth.  All this elevated temperature sends the fish down deep.  This offers the opportunity to switch from the tactics that carry us through the spring and try some bottom fishing.

Bottom Fishing Techniques

Bottom fishing in Tampa Bay can vary from species to species.  The mangrove snapper bite will be red hot these next 2 months.  Snapper are an excellent target because they are fun to catch and great to eat as well.  We catch the largest snappers of the year during this time as huge numbers gather over structure for the spawn.  I like to use light tackle with a “knocker” rig (small egg sinker moves freely on the line) and a shrimp or small sardine.  There is no mistaking the quick thump of a summertime snapper.  Another bottom fishing target is gag grouper.  Although the numbers and bite will improve as summer ends, we catch our fair share now as well.  I like to up the tackle to 50lb mainline and 80lb leader to pull them from the structure.  Best bait is a pinfish, but sardines, even small ones work very well on occasion.

For Snook and Tarpon: Bottom Fishing

We spend all year free-lining snook and tarpon, but using bottom fishing techniques will yield better results in the hot temps.  While there are still some of these fish in the shallows, the big ones are down deep.  Look for areas with at least 10 foot depths and good current flow.  The snook tend to hover right on the bottom in situations, so the challenge is all about presenting a bait deep that sweeps by naturally.  The technique and tackle will have to be varied to match the depth, structure, and current flow.  Tarpon are a bit simpler in that they move around more.  I like to keep the boat still, and let them come to me.  When they are hungry, you will know. ‎


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