Captain Travis Yaeckel, Instinct Fishing Company
Tampa Bay Fishing is Hot!
Fishing the Summer months in Tampa Bay can sometimes be a challenge due to the heat, “bluebird” skies, or sudden thunder storms. On most days, the weather is beautiful and ideal for enjoying the beach or improving your tan-lines. However, fishing in these conditions can sometimes leave you short of success if you don’t know what you’re doing. Historically, July and August are the hottest months in Florida but the fishing can be great if you plan your trips and targeted species accordingly.
Inshore fishing will be best first thing in the morning are later in the afternoon. With the high water temps in shallower water, these fish will not feed as good
due to low oxygen levels. One of my favorite things to do with clients is throw artificial baits at first light, covering ground for about an hour then move to the deeper flats or channels and switch to live or cut bait. A good number of Snook can be found on the beaches, passes, coastal docks, and edges of sandbars where they should hold until we start to see some cooler water temps. Redfish are around, but in general the numbers are down in my opinion across the bay. Some of the larger schools have arrived in upper parts of the bay and there are a few smaller schools peppered throughout. Most of our fish have been caught “spot” fishing and not targeting the schools. My Bait of choice for Redfish is a live or cut pinfish. Trout are still being caught but they can be tough to locate. Search for a mix of sand and grass bottom in 4-6 ft of water and use a free-lined greenback. Add a small pinch weight if needed to get down a little deeper. Areas that have an abundance of “fry” bait will be a good choice.
Bay fishing is as good as it gets and undoubtedly where I spend most of my time right now. Tarpon, Sharks, Cobia, Mangrove Snapper, Grouper, and Mackerel are the targeted species and they can be found all over the bay. Late Season Tarpon will occupy the Skyway Bridge, shipping channels and artificial reefs to feed and seek refuge for the next few weeks. Use a live Threadfin Herring or large Pilchard if the fish are actively feeding during the stronger tides. Try a cut-bait on the bottom during the “slack” or weaker tides. In between Tarpon bites you will catch all the sharks you can handle. Bonnethead, Sharpnose, Blacktip, Bull, Nurse and the occasional Hammerhead Sharks are not uncommon this time of year. They make for a great fight on any Tarpon gear and are a perfect warm-up for the Silver King. On the other hand, the Mangrove Snapper bite is at its peak. Several areas throughout the bay are holding good numbers of up to 5lb fish. The key has been chum. A mix between dead and live pilchards has worked perfect. However, a few store bought chum bags and some shrimp will do the trick. If you are catching your own bait, use a ¼” net and get enough small live pilchards to fish with. Fill a small cooler with dead bait and anchor on one of the bay’s marked artificial reefs or your favorite rock pile. I use the dead baits for chum and drift back small cut and live baits into the chum slick to fool the picky eaters. More often than not, the Spanish Mackerel will show up as well, sometimes even pushing the Snappers back to the bottom. If you are fishing an area with an abundance of Snappers and Mackerel, that’s a good indication of healthy bottom and there are probably some groupers around. A standard practice for me is to have a bottom rod down while we are Snapper fishing. Any larger fish that are drawn to the party will most likely take the bait. A large live Pinfish on the bottom is my favorite for big Gag Grouper inside the bay.
Even though it can be miserably hot at times, we are still catching plenty of fish and keeping the rods bent by adjusting when, where, and what we are fishing for. Make sure to bring and drink plenty of water, especially if you are not used to be outside on a daily basis and where as much sun protection as possible. Lastly, as always, keep a close eye on the weather – summertime thunderstorms are no joke!
SUZUKI TECH TIP
Hot Weather Boating
We need to discuss two engine systems when we talk about hot weather boating.
- Cooling System
These are fairly simple mechanical systems that NEED to function at peak performance when we are operating in near 90F water. (water intakes, thermostats, water pumps and all related parts)
- Fuel System
The second and much more complicated and challenging to manage is the fuel system.
Now let us discuss our fuel system and mostly how our available fuels (E10) affect it…
- Ethanol is a good solvent, degreaser, and cleaner – NOT engine fuel.
- It has a short shelf life – experts say 90 to 100 days.
- E10 ethanol absorbs 50 time more water than non- alcohol fuel.
- As the E10 absorbs water at about .5% water absorption, phase separation occurs. This is when we end up with two liquids in our fuel tanks neither one burnable as fuel. A top layer of ethanol deficient gasoline [low octane] and a lower layer of water rich ethanol. All must be pump out of the tank before you can boat again.
- E10 has a lower boiling, vaporizing point than non- alcohol fuel. That means it will vaporize in the engine’s fuel system in hot weather and cause hot start and other fuel system issues.
- So if you can, use E0 non-ethanol fuel! If you must use E10, try to ensure your fuel system is sealed as best it can be. Use a 10 micron fuel water separating filter and buy only the fuel you will use for the day.
Capt. Travis Yaeckel
Instinct Fishing Co.
Stay dialed-in to what’s biting in Tampa Bay! Capt. Travis Yaeckel, Capt. Jason Prieto, Capt. Ric Liles, & Danny Guarino bring you the full report each week. Listen every Sunday Morning 8-9am on 1040AM ESPN Sports Talk Radio. Watch LIVE on Facebook and YouTube every Wednesday 6-7pm. Or download the podomatic app on your phone or tablet and listen anytime. Search “ Tampa Fishing Outfitters Radio Show “ to follow us and find current and past shows.
My dad and I will be going on a fishing trip this summer. While looking for boats, I came across your article and I will definitely keep in mind to add in a cooling system in order to keep the boat cool during 90F water. This tip will definitely help me to keep my boat in pristine condition and make sure that I get a good boat from a trusted boat dealer.