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Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Report

Improving Conditions

The fishing in general has been off since the storm we had last week. The heavy rainfall and steady high winds really whipped the bay up. Today is one week since this storm moved on but the south bay is still showing signs from it. The normally crystal clear waters are still tannin stained. Since the storm we have also had negative low tides and not much water exchange in and out of the back country. These areas still have a lot of fresh water.

For those of you who fish the south bay often you are aware of the inverted boat hull that has been on the flats just outside of Big Pass since hurricane Irma. During last weeks blow this hull moved north east all the way to the pass at Little Cockroach Island over 3/4 of a mile in water that is normally knee deep. This is a good gauge of just how intense the storm was.

With that all said there has been steady improvement daily but we are not yet back to the type of days I was having pre-storm.

The trout bite has been off. Quite simply their preferred habitat is what got pounded. The influx of fresh water most likely pushed a lot of them out of the back bays as well. We should see the trout bite improve a bit each day. The edges of the flats are giving up some fish but the bite is far from hot.

Over my last few trips the best action has been with Redfish, Snook and Jack Crevales. The Jacks have been everywhere this week and we have been finding them in all sizes.

With the negative lows we have been out of the skiff and walking to the deeper cuts. If you are willing to make the walk the rewards are there for the taking.

some silty mud from under my flats boots

Most all of the cuts now have Redfish laying up in them. The moving water on both sides of the low is the time to be there. We have had some fast action during these periods of moving water. Snook, Jacks and Sheephead have also been laid up in the cuts so we have been getting a nice mixed bag. The Reds have mostly been 15" to 18" fish but yesterday we had some bigger fish mixed in.

Afternoons have been best since this is when the water has been the warmest. It is also when we have had the most water during the recent tide period. Yesterday water temps were back in the high 60's and some of the back bays were just over 70. This warming trend bodes well for improving conditions.

Most of my rods are still rigged with bait fish patterns. I have been using these when fishing the shorelines / mangroves from the skiff and when fishing docks. Olive / White and Olive / Yellow are still working well. All predators respond well to yellow.

For the deeper cuts I have some rods rigged with shrimpy patterns with lead eyes. When Reds are laid up they don't chase much so you need a fly that gets down and just kind of lurks around on or near the bottom. Short strips and lots of pauses. Recent luck has come on Pink, Olive and Tan / Orange patterns.

some pink shrimp eaters

Looking ahead the weather report looks good for warming water temps and continued improvement. We have a great period of water movement coming Jan. 3 through 8th.

Give us a call today to plan your next Fly Fishing trip. 607-290-4022.

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