August is generally a month when inshore fishermen target redfish....the reason being that the bite for these fish typically holds up even when water temperatures close in on 90 degrees. Alarmingly, over the last few years, the summer and fall bite has been weaker than expected in northern Pinellas County. Recent catches, however indicate that there redfish will rebound this year as, even amidst the heat of August, good numbers of fish are being found. Double digit catches have been the norm on the last few trips. There are a good numbers of slot fish around with occasional 28 - 32 inch fish mixed in. Interestingly, there is the large volume of 17 to 22 inch fish as well. Usually, Tampa Fishing Charters run in late February and early March produce high volumes of smaller fish but this is not typical for August. Nevertheless, it's good news for the average recreational angler as, even if the larger fish aren't found, most "weekend warriors" should be able to go out and both find redfish and catch a few big enough for dinner. Schooling fish are also starting to be seen, giving hope to the thought that some real banner redfishing is right around the corner. 10 to 12 lbs braided line with 30 lbs. flourocarbon leader and a #2/0 circle hook is all that is needed to land most fish that will be encountered. To the angler lucky enough to find some heavyweights near cover, bumping up the pound test won't hurt. Cover water aggressively, moving until fish are found and don't forget to prospect any sizable mullet schools as these always have the possibility of harboring the mother load of redfish.
With the summer spawn now over for snook, these fish are not as easily caught, There are still some groups of fish to be found but their locations have changed. Where almost all of the fish had been holding somewhere adjacent to the passes just a short 4 - 6 weeks ago, numbers on the beach side have diminished. Although scattered fish might still be found "outside", groups of fish can now be found inside on the flats and even up is some of the residential canals, places that will only get better as the weather cools. Aggressively chumming locations holding snook will usually uncover their presence. Fish in these locations may be very mixed in size so beefing up on tackle back among the trees and dock poles would be advisable....never know when the big one will show up.
Small to meduim sized bait has appeared on the beaches now and there are already mackerel showing up to feed on it. On a recent Tampa Fishing Charter, seatrout, jacks, ladyfish and a couple of undersized cobia were caught right in with these mackerel.This bodes well for an early and prolonged near shore bite on this species and is hopefully an indicator that kingfish will show both early and in good numbers. Time will tell. Mangrove snapper fishing was exceptional in the spring and with larger than average fish being caught in close all summer, it is likely that the ledges and artificial reefs within a few miles of shore will hold a bounty of them soon. Catching these snapper can be challenging but coming home with a nice limit is always rewarding.
In summary, as fall approaches, a greater variety of fish will begin to show up in our near shore waters and anglers will have a choice to make...stay inshore to tangle with good numbers of redfish and an occasional snook or run outside to chase multiple near shore species. It's always nice to have options. Good luck and good fishing.
For those looking for other "family friendly" outdoor activities, visit Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, one of the top rated zoos in the country or head east about 45 minutes to Lakeland, Florida to Safari Wilderness Ranch...a 260 acre enclosed area populated with many of the animals found on Africa's Serengeti Plains.