an insider look at some of our best
bays to fish with some of the best
local captains from around the country
WORDS BY: CHASTEN WHITFIELD
PALMA SOLA Bay
KEY SPECIES: Speckled Sea Trout, snook, Snook, red fish and more
Reel: Penn Fathom Low profile 200/ ROD: Carnage iii inshore CARINIII815C70
REEL: PENN Spinfisher VI
While Captain Mike Gore covered a Tampa Bay piece one of our favorite contributors Chasten Whitfield also wanted to make sure she left here mark on the BAY SLAY editorial. Palma Sola is one of the bays in the great Tampa bay area.
Palma Sola Bay is an embayment located in western Manatee County in Florida and opens into the intercostal waterway and Anna Maria Sound to the Northwest and the historic fishing village of Cortez to the South. The bay is surrounded by lush mangroves and urban neighborhoods that were developed in the 1960’s. The size of the bay is said to be approximately 3200 acres.
Many species of wildlife also call Palma Sola Bay home. Manatees, Dolphin, and many waterfowl can be found year-round and provide visitors an exciting experience. The bay is also used as an area for water skiing and jet ski from causeway leading towards Anna Maria Island. The focus of our story is the fishing. Inside this bay you can catch snook, trout, redfish and even tarpon. The bay consists of shallow water with a mixture of sand and seagrass.
Primarily fishing in this area is all about locating and catching live bait. Now some live bait can be bought from local bait shops like shrimp but a better option when available is a live well full of pilchards. Pilchards during warm days are an excellent bait and you can fish them under a cork, weighted down with a split shot or free lined which allows the bait to swim freely. Locating grass beds is easily done as the bay is not too deep. Once you find the grass you can introduce your baits and typically catch speckled sea trout in no time. Redfish will frequent the same areas as the tide gets low and they escape from the shallow waters near the mangrove shoreline. During high tide periods target snook and redfish near the mangrove overhanging branches. Position your boat or kayak so you can cast under the bushes. The redfish and snook will come chasing after the frisky bait. Redfish will also respond to dead bait such as cut pin fish weighted down casted to the same bushes. As far as artificial bait is concerned, I will use Berkley gulps with a 3/8-ounce jig head when bait is hard to get. Theses baits have an odor that the fish seem to love.
There are also the private docks that surround the bay. These docks can produce some great action with all sorts of fish species including snapper and sheepshead. The fishing tactic here is to position yourself close to the dock as to make accurate casts and not get lines caught up on the dock. Baits can placed as close to the pilings as you can to allow the fish hiding to easily get to.
The tackle you will need is simple, I use an 8-foot Penn battalion 8-15 pound rod combined with a Penn Spinfisher VI with 12 pound braid. The hook is a 2/0 FUSION circle and a 20-25 pound Vanish fluorocarbon leader. These weights can both be smaller or larger depending on the size fish you target.
There are several ways to fish in Palma Sola. There is a boat ramp on the west side right of Manatee Avenue West along with shoreline to wade or launch kayaks. There is also wading access along the South side from Palma Sola Boulevard. Use any of these accesses and techniques but be sure to leave the bay cleaner and better than you find it.
BERKLEY FUSION BUCKTAILS
BERKLEY GRASS PIG
BERKLEY PRO GRUB