Today the winds were down to less than 5 mph. With slick calm conditions today, my friend Lee and I decided to fish the Tampa Bay bridges for some pompano. Usually this time of year we could catch one here and there. Pompano, if you don’t knot it, makes for pretty good table fair.
Armed with the typical pompano jig it was slim pickings for what seemed like hours. This year the bridge fishing for pompano has been quite slow Lee tells me. He did add that the Mangrove snapper bite has been outstanding however.
Sadly, this little guy called a burr fish was the only fish worthy of a photo for the first couple hours.
We kept running from bridge to bridge to no avail. It was so calm out there we were expecting to see black drum tailing on the piling but instead we saw juvenile tarpon rolling.
These guys can be quite picky so we paid them no attention and continue our pompano hunt. Of course this lead us to hooking two of them which made for an exciting event on 10lb test gear.
Speaking of gear here was my set up today:
|Dan James Custom Rod with HMX blank and Microwave guides|
|New 10lb test braid by Mustad|
|Daiwa 2500 Ballistic with mag sealed|
We manage to land one of the juvi tarpon and got some nice photos. He guy was under 20lbs and in the legal limits to take out of water for a photo.
Those of you that do not know, if you catch a tarpon you “CAN NOT” take them out of the water if they are over 40″. A Large tarpon are very tough to control and will end up hurting themselves beyond recovery.
“People will be allowed to temporarily possess a tarpon for photography, measurement of length and girth and scientific sampling, with the stipulation that tarpon more than 40 inches must remain in the water.”
Once the tide started to turn we decided to give up the pompano hunt and go after the more reliable mangrove snapper.
Our basic rig a Carolina rig consisting of, #1 hook, 30lb leader and a 1oz lead to get to the bottom of the swift current.
We would cast it out near the piling then let it sit at the bottom. Keeping the line tight so you can detect movement, the key is not not set the hook when you feel the nibble. Let them eat and when you feel it move deliberately then set the hook. Reel very quickly or the big ones will break you off in the pilings. Mangrove snappers are very strong for their size, you need to get them away from the structure as soon as you can.
You can use an anchor to hang out at the pilings you are fishing but we were lucky enough to have a Rhodan GPS trolling motor which allows us to anchor using the gps while we fished. This was a back saver not having to pull anchor and redeploy when we were looking for a more concentrated group of fish.
Using medium shrimp it did not take much to pull them out of the bridges pilings. We had our limit of 5 per person in about an hour of fishing.
The biggest fish was probably 13″ but I hear they get much bigger this time of year even inshore. Now it is time to go clean some fish and eat some fresh snapper dinner.
Mangrove snapper rules for the gulf coast:
|Gray/Mangrove Snapper||10″||5 per harvester per day||Included within 10 per harvester per day snapper aggregate bag limit|