Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Report
GREAT EARLY DECEMBER ACTION!
I've been in Florida for about 3 weeks now. My transition from Trout fishing in the Upper Delaware to the Florida Flats was a quick one. I arrived here in Mid November, got my skiff ready and finished out November with a trip just about every day.
The fishing has been hot since the water temperatures are still very warm. Just about everywhere the water is in the low 70's. The bait in the area is incredible as the flats around my main fishing area are one big constant mass of tiny bait fish. The photo below shows some balls of small baitfish.
There has been some pretty amazing feeding blitzes most every day. since arriving here my guests have had some action filled days on the water. With all the small bait fish it is easy to draw attention to small flies fished on or near the surface. Right now we have perfect conditions for action on the fly rod. Most of my trips have produced mixed bag catches of 50+ fish per day. During this time our main action has been with Spanish Mackerel. These fish are super exciting on light fly rods. I have been rigging #5 and #6 weight rods and my reels are getting a workout! Below are a Pair of recent photos
With all of this heavy surface activity my guests have been very content. I have not put much time into chasing Snook and Reds on Back Country flats and in the Mangroves. We have had some luck with both on the flats and in the passes. Right now however they have not been the main attraction. They will become my main focus once some cooler water moves in and the migratory fish thin out.
Overall it has been a action filled few weeks full of shredded flies and happy faces!
Since my arrival here we have also been taking a wide diversity of different fish. Right now it seems that most every species is visiting the edges of the flats to gorge on the bait masses. Here are some of the fish that we have been taking on the fly. Daily - Spanish Mackerel, Spotted Trout, Jacks, Ladyfish, Snook. The following creatures have also showed up pretty regularly on the end of our fly rods. Redfish, Bluefish, Pompano, Flounder, Grouper, Snapper, Grunts, Sheepshead and Sea Bass.
Here are some photos from the last week
The Grouper have been a pretty cool surprise. I caught them occasionally over the years but this year it has been steady. I had been keeping track and we had about a dozen of these hard fighters over several week. Yesterday during the negative low tide we waded to a deep cut that was pretty cut off by the low water. Slow stripping shrimp patterns produced 6 Juvenile Grouper and a nice dinner sized Flounder. So the Grouper tally may now pass my lifetime total in only a few weeks.
This week we have been seeing Negative low tides every day. These extreme low tides are a cool part of winter time fishing here. It is pretty exciting to explore the bare flats on foot checking to see what the skinny water is holding.
This week I also had the opportunity to get a day on the water with my bud, Ted Haas. We fished about 40 minutes to the south of my normal area. I had fished this area before but it was great to get a day with someone who had lived here their whole life and guided for years. It was a great learning day on mostly new flats. Thanks to Ted for the local perspective and sharing of a few spots that I would have most likely overlooked.
Below are some photos of the flats. These flats are right out in heavily traveled area of the inter coastal. Most of the shots I took from the poling platform while ted worked the water. This is one beautiful area with amazing water clarity and scenery.