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Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Report

This week is the Big Fly Fishing Show in Somerset NJ. Although I will not be there personally, Baxter House Staff will be in attendance. Our staff will once again be manning the Sullivan County / Roscoe Chamber of Commerce Booth. This year our booth will be setup in the lobby of the destination theater in the Double Tree hotel. PLease stop by to talk fly fishing and get your spring float trips scheduled!

On Sunday and Monday bad weather kept me off the water. We had some heavy rains and winds up to 50 mph. We spent most of Sunday under a tornado watch. Over this 2 day period we had heavy tides 2 to 3 feet higher than normal and the bay waters were up over some docks and spilling out into normally dry areas.

Yesterday the winds laid down to a manageable blow and I got back out there. The bay still had a big swell and the south west wind made going anywhere outside the back country tough. I chose instead to stay back in the Mangroves cuts and pole some some areas where I had not spent too much time in the past. This was time well spent as I found some new cuts that were holding fish.

The Trout bite was on as soon as the tide started moving. Every cut that I fished that had decent grass around it produced Trout from 12" to 18". I also had a few Snook takes in the deeper cuts. Right now I am using mostly clousers for my trout fishing. This fly when tied sparse gets down quick and the best Trout have been tight to bottom. The best tactic has been to let the fly swing slowly while taking sharp but short strips.

Below is a photo of a bunch of synthetic clousers that I tied the other night. These two colors are my favorites along with tan / white. Notice that there are 2 different styles. Slender and thicker. This controls sink rate a bit. The synthetic materials also have much more movement than the traditional bucktail. The extra movement is important with a very slow retrieve and frequent pauses.

Yesterday I was also on the lookout for Snook and Redfish.

The back country flats were loaded with both mullet and white bait. I had some opportunity with reds while checking out some huge mullet schools in shallow water. These were one or two cast opportunities at best that all ended up in the favor of the fish.

I have also been fishing the Mangroves a lot for Reds and Snook. This has been pretty good but I have been finding the fish in pockets so you have to be persistent. Because of the 70 degree water there is still abundant baitfish everywhere. Baitfish imitations are still drawing attention. I have a couple of rods rigged and EP Baitfish around 4" to 5" have been hot. I also have been throwing smaller Mullet Flies and Pinfish imitations at times. All have been producing.

Here are some pics from yesterday at mid day.

One bit of advice for the present is that the action has been blowing up near or right at dark. On all of my recent late day outings I have had exciting action.

Last night was no exception as we found fish crashing bait around a long sandbar. At times the fish were up in water that was 5" deep scattering baitfish in every direction. My best fish of the day came right at dark as I cast over the corner of a sandbar to get an explosive take from the pictured snook in 6" of water. This fish came on an EP Minnow - Everglades Special Pattern.

Right now the best approach with the baitfish imitations is more pause that strip. I have been trying to make the patterns twitch and tumble with the current. This is way better that the steady retrieve. This method mimics the heavy amount of live whitebait chumming that happens around the bay every day. "always feed the fish in the manner they are used to being fed"

I have a few openings this week before getting busy in early February. Give us a call today to plan your next trip at 607-290-4022.

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