Baitfish are plentiful in August and can usually be caught at dawn on the beaches. Red tides and algal blooms are common in Sarasota Bay and Tampa Bay in August, so finding clean water is key to summer inshore fishing. Once clean water is found, try to work any deeper grass flats, mangrove shorelines, or docks that provide shade. These deeper, shaded structures near moving water will provide higher oxygen levels for predators as well as a place to ambush prey. Snook will often hide near mangrove roots during high tide while redfish and flounder gather under docks. Look for seatrout in deeper channels and seagrass beds. Live bait chumming with pilchards can be used to “wake up” any dozy, overheated fish and get them actively feeding once located. A freelined pilchard is the best snook and seatrout bait, while a small pinfish or shrimp is hard to beat for redfish. Cut ladyfish or mullet on the bottom can also be used to bring in roaming schools of redfish.
By the end of August, nearshore tarpon fishing usually begins to slow down, but they can still be caught during big tides in Tampa Bay with threadfins or pass crabs. Anchoring over and chumming nearshore structure (reefs and wrecks) can produce Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, grouper, and sharks. Fishing ledges and natural hard bottom with shrimp can provide hogfish, porgies, grunts and larger flounder. Keep a few pass crabs ready in case a school of permit moves through.
Further offshore, bottom fishing with live pinfish or frozen sardines for species like grouper (red and gag), snapper (red and mangrove), and amberjack can be highly productive despite the heat. King mackerel, cobia, barracuda, and sharks can often be caught with a freelined threadfin on the surface. Look for artificial reefs, wrecks, and ledges, but pay attention to the weather conditions when heading offshore – August is part of the hurricane season and powerful cells can move in quickly.
Hiring a local fishing charter service at Keyes Marina can help to ensure a successful and enjoyable fishing trip. A charter captain can provide insight into local fishing spots, techniques, tackle, regulations, tides, weather, and gear.