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Tampa Bay mornings start later and later these days with the sun not arriving till 7 am. Gathering bait starts at 6:45 unless you want to chum and throw your net in the dark. This morning’s snook and redfish trip required 300 or so scaled sardines. The majority of these baits are needed for chumming which can make or break the bite. Chumming is an art, keeping birds at bay and the fish fired up is a juggling act.

With great friends Capt. Little Jim and Dave we headed to Tampa Bay’s eastern shore to jump on the super snook bite. Upon arrival we had no water flow. The tide seemed stalled and our first load of chum baits was not met with the zest of the last 2 weeks. We did ok taking small snook, 9 snook in 90 minutes. We also caught Mackerel, trout and Ladyfish in the same area.

We headed to Ft. Desoto in search of redfish with no success. We did find a school of large snook with many over the slot. We managed to hook one but quickly lost it.

Next we decided to play with the large Bonita that has invaded lower Tampa Bay. We quickly found schools of Bonita turning the water into a boiling frenzy. The action started immediately with double headers common. Catching the speedsters on light tackle is as good as it gets. Our tactics are simple, cast small silver spoons into the exploding water and reel as fast as you can. Bonita attack with vengeance and make long drag screaming runs.

One of Dave’s Bonita was 2’ from the boat when the man in the gray suit arrived. Six feet of raging bull shark attacked the 10 pound Bonita like it was a snack. Dave now had line screaming from his reel, several hundred yards were gone in seconds. We chased the fish for 10 minutes only to have it come unhooked. Check out the image of what’s left of the Bonita. Amazing sight!

The weather was incredible, fall fishing is here.

Capt. Steven

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