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Friday’s trip started like most charters chasing bait. White baits are still plentiful on the flats in lower Tampa Bay. With a negative low tide of -.03 at 6 am I knew a deep pot hole that would hold bait. Sure enough they were there it just took some chumming and a little patience. First toss a legal size grouper found its way into the net, with gills flared and spines upright it made getting it out of the net a chore.

About the time I was done gathering bait the fogged rolled in. In minutes visibility dropped to less than 100’. The run to Tampa Bay’s eastern shore from the Skyway Bridge was surreal. I suggest checking the USCG website for navigations rules in fog.

Working sandy potholes on grass flats required a float to keep the baits from diving in to the grass and fouling the hook. Within minutes we had a snook double header, moments later it was another double header. Mixed in on this fast and furious snook action were flounder. Even with the floats suspending baits the flounder chased baits. Targeting flounder as a rule means keeping baits on or near the bottom.

We left the snook chewing (not always a smart move) and worked our way north towards the Little Manatee River. Along the way we ran into numerous schools of mackerel. Clark silver spoons retrieved rapidly found instant action. I motored up tide and drifted right through the school. Several times we were totally surrounded by mackerel. Almost every cast found the target, these 15-18” speedsters were a ton of fun. Often we had several mackerel all fighting for the same lure.

Once again we left the fish biting and got back on track looking for redfish and snook. Targeting deep drop offs and potholes once again proved the right tactic. Snook to 26” and redfish to 24” were stacked in one such hole. It was the mother lode of fish. Great action, super day.

Capt. Steven

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