July and August were outstanding months to be fishing. And with any luck, we should have a very active continuation of fishing and catching into September. Water and air temperatures will still be on the warm side around 90 degrees and will not tapper off until we turn the corner in October. The good news is bait fish are concentrated throughout Clearwater Bay and St Joseph Sound which will keep the fish coming back for more. And always take a couple dozen live shrimp from Barracuda Bob’s Bait and Tackle on Dunedin causeway because redfish and tout will jump all over fresh shrimp.
What’s Hot? I’ll be targeting the same top species that have been on fire all summer- snook, redfish, trout and mackerel.
Snook catches will remain good in the passes and along the beaches as long as we have excellent weather. Clean moving water after the tide change will be your best chance. Tip: Large sardines, medium pin fish and grunts for bait will do the job. Later September, look for these fish to start moving inside the bays to the spoil islands and mangrove shore lines.
The redfish are scattered throughout the bay on skinny water flats and around large oyster beds. They will not be in large numbers yet, but small groups can be found. Use the high tide to search the shallows up next to the mangrove shorelines. Tip: Have some cut up baits in a chum bat ready so if you come up on a few redfish shut down everything and sling out the chum. Most of the time, this should hold some of those fish from swimming off.
Trout will still be in there summer haunts, inside the passes and grass flats throughout September. Finding old yellow mouth is not difficult but locating the 20+ inch fish, may take some looking. I will be exploring the 3ft to 5ft deep flats that have good moving water and using both white bait and live shrimp. Tip: Start your fishing on the up side of the grass flat. That’s the side the moving water is hitting first. The trout will be ambushing their food as it approaches the flat.
Look for the mackerel at the top of the tide throughout the inside bays. Tip: Anchor up and start chumming. Both sardines and shrimp will work fine. Soon the toothy critters will show up and bring a lot of drag screaming action. Some of these fish have been quite big this year.
We are still at the end of summer and our fall temperatures are a ways off. Whichever species you target, go at it and catch’em up.
Capt. Gary Burch