Kayak Fishing Tampa Bay


October comes to a close and it was a great month of kayak fishing in the Tampa Bay region.   As mentioned on the Backwaters, Beaches and Bays fishing show every week, the action has been solid for four main species:   Trout, redfish, pompano and flounder.    Other options that have been available are jacks, ladyfish and mackerel to name a few.  It is a great time of year and November will be “more of the same”.

Getting away from the superheated waters and dropping into the Fall season, the fish have been very agreeable to eating lures with the 12 Fathom 3-inch mullet the top bait to throw to pretty much all species.   A trend that will emerge going into November, the fish may prefer the SlamR to the mullet as their diets may shift some from baitfish to shrimp.  November will probably be a time when both lures work equally well but eventually the SlamR will reign supreme.

The targeting of the two mini-sets of species has everything to do with location and presentation of the lures.   Trout, redfish and flounder are going to be caught if the lures are moved at a speed that always keeps the lure right down in their faces, just above the bottom.    The ladyfish, mackerel and jacks are a different story.   Lures moved at a much faster pace in areas of deeper water will lead to more action for the species that travel (and feed) higher in the water column.  Areas near Gulf passes or the deeper grassflats will be the best place to intercept these species.   It is often something I will have people do for a short period of time before moving into other areas for the main targets, which I will discuss below.

These are my favorite to target and have people catch, and in the absence of snook, are in excellent numbers in most locations.    Parts of the northern region have been mysteriously down in numbers but all other areas of the Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee counties  have produced redfish action that demonstrates that this is a strong, sustained species.

Redfish like Mark Bynum's have been very cooperative.

The most popular Florida fish in saltwater, the cooling air and water will lead to greater action with the bigger speckled trout.  October was decent for trout action but not what it will be in the months to come.   If current regulations stay the same, they will be closed to harvest in the months of November and December in the South Region, which is south of Howard Park near the Pinellas/Pasco county line.   For anglers who still want to enjoy the action in the South region, it would be a good idea to take a pliers and smash down the barbs on hooks to help with a healthier release of fish that must be returned to the water by law.  Good fighting technique will translate to losing few fish but if you do, well, you would have been letting it go anyway right?

Interesting times for the future of speckled trout for not just here but around the state with a regulations proposal that will be approved or denied in November.   Contrary to things I have read about stock assessments and other anecdotal feedback, I do not think that trout populations are as good as they were six years ago.   They are proposing lifting the closed seasons for recreational anglers.   The other parts of the proposal are what  concern people who care about the fishery.   Changes on the commercial side (yes, there is a commercial market for speckled trout) could create much bigger reasons for the commercial fishermen to put substantial pressure on trout, something that isn’t an issue at this time.   If you wish to share your own thoughts on the rules changes, I have been in contact with state reps, Senators offices and even the office of the governor and would share your thoughts if you wish.  I can even share my own letter, on request, if you would like to see my thoughts on the details of the proposal.  (send to Livelybaits@aol.com)

Let's hope that there are many trout available for all like this one caught by STKF client Nevin Rasor.

There was solid action throughout the month for a species I have pursued since I was just a kid.   I’m not sure if September was slightly better than October or if we put in less time actually targeting them but there were many days in October where the numbers (and size of) the flounder were exceptional.   A common misconception on many species, but very big with flounder, is that you need to feed them a live bait.   Not true.  Obviously, fish eat live offerings but the lures bumped in front of flounder will be eaten just as easily as the baits that swim by them.   The only thing that has been necessary to create the action was to vary some technique.  Sometimes the flounder would eat lures that were dragged across the bottom in front of them, other times they ate lures that cruised just above the bottom that they ambushed but the other thing that worked when the first two methods didn’t?    “Hopping it”.   Lures that were methodically bounced up and down off the bottom excited dormant flounder (or was it “doormat” dormant flounder?).

Tommy Phelps and another "trough" flounder.

It doesn’t matter if you are throwing lures to any of the species, no matter what you are doing you need to adjust to get the strike.    Try different things and get them to eat it.

October was great but I think that with some good luck with the weather, November may be the best fishing in 2011.  Enjoy the great fishing Florida has to offer and if you need help learning, hire one of the b3.fishing.com staff or contributors for what you want to do out there.

Neil Taylor, www.strikethreekayakfishing.com