This is a blog post by a guest writer & Tampa local*
Backcountry fishing is a thing of beauty, and even though it’s the fish that bring us out there, the fish is just a bonus. Fishing in the backcountry of Tampa Bay is about as good as it gets. Leave behind the hustle and bustle of the city of Tampa and explore the mangrove lined shorelines as we slowly and quietly pole the clear, shallow waters; looking and listening. It’s a chance to reflect and recharge from the monotonous day to day routine that we all know. Tampa Bays backwaters are anything but monotonous. It’s ever changing like the ebb and flow of the tides, always revealing something new and providing a cleansing for the local inhabitants.
As I tool along, drifting in and out of conscious, I hear a snook busting bait near the entangled mangroves. I am instantly reminded of what brings me back time after time in the first place. As I gather my wits, I take a short cast of my rod to the exact location of the commotion and place my lure perfectly; nothing. I work the paddle tail methodically over and over again along the shoreline, anticipating the strike, but it never comes.
My senses are heightened now and I see and hear everything that is happening around me. Herons are bustling in the dense mangroves, oystercatchers are scurrying up and down the slightly exposed oyster bar picking off small baitfish when suddenly, out of nowhere, a large wake pushes toward a small school of mullet. The mullet leap out of the water; darting off every which way. Then I see it. The large back of a redfish out of the water as it corners the mullet into the shallows. My heart begins racing as I know I may have only one shot at placing my lure perfectly in the direct path of this large, obviously hungry, redfish.
I choose my topwater plug due to the shallow and oyster riddled waters. I cock back and wing it toward the fish that is now on the move parallel with the oyster bar in search of its next victim. Plop. My placement is exactly where I wanted it, just a few feet in front of him. I start working the lure in a “walk the dog” motion slowly; click clack, click clack. The fish takes notice and alters his path toward the lure. I speed up the retrieve. The fish speeds up. The wake he is throwing up is impressive and I know at that instance that it’s a sizable redfish. SPOOLSH! He explodes on it and takes off, with my drag singing. I go into tunnel vision and focus everything on the task at hand. He digs and makes a long run. Then I dig and gain some ground. This battle goes back and forth until I can finally wear him down. I gently lift him out of the water- 29 inches. I marvel at his beautiful copper tone body and then slowly lower him down into the water. Within a few seconds he gives a quick thrash of his tail and darts away. I stand up, inspect my leader, and go back to poling and getting lost in the backcountry of Tampa Bay.
This describes a typical day within the backcountry waters of Tampa Bay. The sights, sounds and even the smells associated with a low tide keep me coming back. Again, nothing is monotonous about the bay; it is always changing, forever renewing itself. Like Henry David Thoreau once said, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after”. Come experience our little slice of heaven here in Tampa Bay with Steady Action Fishing Charters and get lost with us. Captain Jason will get you on the fish, and hopefully my words here will help you experience your trip like a local.