Captain Chuck Rogers (813-918-8356): Capt. Chuck says all the rain and runoff from Nicole has clouded the bay waters and it may be the weekend before it starts to clear. The trout bite should return once the water is cleaner, and the grass flats around the Hillsborough side of the Gandy Bridge in 5 to 6 feet of water should be where they will be.
Mackerel fishing in the inner bay was great before the storm, but until the water clears up, your best bet will be to head out over the Skyway Bridge and the Fort De Soto area where the water will be clean and salty This area can also be the best place to find live bait until the salinity levels further up the bay return to normal levels. Fishing off the southern Pinellas beaches should produce a mix of mackerel and tripletail, which have been gravitating to crab trap buoys.
Capt. George Hastick (727-525-1005): Captain George says this will be the week the fishing starts to recover from the rain dumped by Tropical Storm Nicole. For snook anglers, all the fresh water will trigger things around spillways and anywhere fresh water from retention ponds and storm drains flows into the bay. A few reds will be the same points. Look for Spanish mackerel around the Skyway Bridge and fishing pier, and schools of cats will appear in large schools as the water clears and salinity levels rise.
Gandy Bait & Tackle (813-839-5551): Robert reports that the trout fishing was decent until Nicole pulled through, but he suspects they should fall back into their previous pattern this week. Good catches were reported by anglers fishing the flats off Picnic Island as well as the 4th Street flats on the Pinellas side of the bay.
A few reds are likely to be taken there too, although the schools are broken up and singles and doubles are more likely than the bigger pods. The biggest reds taken the last few days were on the flats near the south end of Weedon Island. Mangrove snapper fishing has been good off the Picnic Island Pier and the Ballast Point Pier has produced a number of bull sharks between 2 and 4 feet. There are lots of Spanish mackerel around the Skyway Bridge.
Riviera Bait & Tackle (727-954-6365): Jacob says anglers have been finding plenty of smaller clothes in the residential canals, with the mornings being the best. Live shrimp, sardines or mullet have been the best baits. Reds have been taking cut fish in the mangroves when the water has risen. Among artificials, soft plastics are produced when worked slowly.
Black drum fishing has picked up and anglers are reporting schools in the backwaters of central Tampa Bay. Shrimp and fiddler crabs work well. Sheepshead fishing is picking up around docks, rocks, and bridge pilings. Shrimp, fiddleheads, oysters, and clams are baits that work. Offshore, a few nice kings have been trolled and gags have been on structure in relatively shallow water. Hogfish are being caught in 30-70 feet. Use shrimp and a light leader.
Mitch’s Bait & Tackle (727-826-0265): Ryan reports that it will be a recovery week after last week’s tropical storm. Snook should be one of the best bets as all the freshwater flowing into the bay will cause action around the creek mouths, spillways, and anywhere fresh water is available. The reds are breaking and jumping between docks will be the best way to find them until the water cools down a bit and they start schooling again. Spanish Mackerel are schooling around the Skyway Bridge in good numbers.