Every day on the water in Tampa Bay starts off with catching bait. Tampa Bay is one of the largest estuaries in Florida. Its lined with miles of pristine flats and the center of the bay is host to markers and towers that all offer an excellent bait source. Between the flats and the markers Tampa is a great host to thousands of baitfish. This is the perfect ingredient to a great fishery.
A typical morning for just about any Tampa fishing guide is catching bait at sunrise. Just like fish they move from week to week and sometimes can be hard to find and other times its one and done. Fishing 270 charters a year and 15 years of guiding you can appreciate when the day starts out with a blacked out live well. There are some basic things that will help you catch more bait per throw and quicker. I am going to give you some basics to help you catch more bait in Tampa Bay.
It all starts with a cast net. Just like fishing rods cast nets may look the same but are far from it. My preferred size is typically a 12-foot net. Brand of choice is Barracuda cast nets. They are a great made net and a local company that supports a bunch of fishing guides throughout the bay area. When picking the right cast net you need to know what you are looking to catch and where. The two main areas we throw cast nets for bait would be in deeper water and in the shallow flats of Tampa Bay. Barracuda makes a 12 foot 1.4 lbs. per foot which would be my number one choice when throwing around the markers. The 12-foot spread will cover a bunch or ground and the added weight will ensure your bait does not outrun the cast net. The shallow water flats require a bit more throws on average, so I opt for the Barracuda 12-foot flats edition. This net is designed for the flats of Tampa Bay. Its weighs considerably less than the traditional net but has the spread to cover enough area. For some useful information check them out on at https://barracudatackle.com/
Another key to catching bait would have to be chum. It is always easier to bring the fish to you rather them chasing them around the flats. There are a bunch of different things that people use for chum, but I have found that Purina 45 fish food is the easiest and best chum out there. It is a dry based chum that can be kept for extend amount of time if not wet. Just add water and make is like wet sand. You can get creative and add some menhaden oil, but I typically do simply fine with adding water.
Last would be the time of year to go where. I have spent a lot of time over the years figuring out the details of when and where. During the colder months of the year the bait moves deep and during the warmer months the bait will move shallow. The summer months is easier to find bait as the flats of Tampa Bay are typically covered up with acres of bait. We hope to see you out on the water soon. If you are interested in booking a Tampa fishing charter give us a call 813-727-9890 or just go to our bookings page https://steadyactionfishingcharters.com/contact/