Anytime is a great time to start fishing, but right now Tampa Bay is on fire and with winter approaching, it is only getting better. There is no time like now to get hooked on the greatest sport on earth. I spoke with fishing fanatic and college student Corey Cavanagh about some of the secrets for success when fishing in Tampa Bay. We spoke about many of the fundamentals and some of the basic necessities a new angler will need to find success in the bay. I fish with this guy all the time in the bay and we always catch fish, so any new anglers looking for some advice, listen up!
What are the most basic things a new angler would need to get started?
“Well, the first thing any fisherman needs is a good rod-and-reel combo. If they are fishing from a boat or kayak, I would recommend a 7-foot medium action, 8-17 pound class rod, pared with a 3000 or 4000 size spinning reel. But, if they will be fishing mostly from land, then I would step up to a longer and a little heavier rod so that they can cast further and handle a bigger fish. A medium heavy-action, 10-20 pound rod should do. Pair it with a 4000 size reel. Also I would recommend using braided fishing line over monofilament because it casts further, it is stronger and it is more sensitive.” Go to a local tackle shop and tell them the type of fishing you are interested in and they will recommend a suitable setup.
Where should we go and what should we use?
One thing everyone should know about most fishermen is: they do not want to give up any spots or at least not their honey holes. But, Tampa bay is huge and can be hard to find good spots if you are new to the area. Second, is that it is not so much the “where” as it is the “what.” Fall is here and so is the fall bite, so look for the schools of white bait and schools of mullet gathered on the same flat – this is where most of the fish are. If you are fishing a flat that does not have both of those things you need to move to a different flat. Now, obviously, if you are catching fish where you are, stay. But if not, then you know it is time to move.
“Location is very important, but so is the bait. First off, it depends on what type of fish I am targeting then I can pick my spot. Trout love sea grass. So I will look for grass beds in the bay and I will drift or anchor depending on the bait I am using. Trout will eat just about any bait that you throw at them so this makes them a great fish to target. Drifting grass flats, I will use jigs, twitch baits, top water plugs and jerk baits. But if I am anchored I can very effectively use live bait to cover one particular area. Trout love many live baits including pilchards (greenbacks or any white bait), pin fish and shrimp.”
What about fishing without a boat?
Fishing from a boat is great, but sometimes that is not always possible so we have to change our tactics and fish from land. “The same techniques apply: find a grass flat from land that you can wade fish in, and look for approaches to bridges and islands. Also look for pilings, docks and jetties near beaches and passes. These areas are great if a boat is not available. But these techniques do not only work for trout. Redfish, snook, sheepshead and snapper often hang around the same areas.”
These are some basic tactics for catching fish in Tampa bay, but the best way to learn how to fish is to go out and practice these common techniques, so get out there and start fishing!