Capt. Steve Brownlee noted that "one day, the snook are on fire and the next day, the redfish are on fire. Fishing has been good, really good."
Over the past week Brownlee has been fishing around the flats of Tampa Bay, putting his clients on consistent action. With the dip in water temperatures redfish have schooled up and many snook have made their way off the beaches and onto flats or deeper edges of flats.
Helping Brownlee succeed has been the ability to get bait, and plenty of it. "Bait has been really easy at the skyway, one or two cats and done," he said. "Good sized bait too. It's a mixture of small two to three inch bait for chumming and big bait for fishing, all mixed together."
Brownlee also credits the good tides for also helping him get to the hungry fish. Last weeks higher tides let him get into areas of the flats redfish have been roaming to feed.
"I found a school of redfish just idling along a shoreline while keeping an eye out from my tower as my clients ate lunch. I saw the school, anchored down and started chumming heavy. They immediately starting eating and it was double, triple and quadruple hookups after that." By the end, he says they caught probably 50 redfish up to 34-inches.
Like many anglers have noticed since September started, Brownlee has landed plenty of snook in the slot size limit. That's a good sign the snook fishery is on the rebound. "One of the days we probably caught about 50 snook with about 12 keeper sized fish mixed in. It's been a lot of 30-31-inch fish, and the biggest we caught was about 36 or 37-inches."
If you're looking for trout, you may be looking for a while. "I haven't found them," Brownlee says. "The ones we're catching have been small, but as the water cools I expect them to get bigger on the flats."
Like many of Tampa Bay's notable captains, Brownlee will be fishing in The 18th Annual Yerrid Foundation Grand Slam Fishing Tournament presented by Bonefish Grill next weekend held at The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort. The tournament puts captains in search of the best possible slam, a combination of a single redfish, snook and trout in inches.
The two day tournament brings together sponsors and anglers to support the research needed to find a cure for childhood cancer. The highly competitive field will most likely need to get a snook bigger than 36-inches, redfish bigger than 33-inches, and trout bigger than 22-inches to take home the title from reigning champion and Bradenton native Capt. TJ Stewart.