Spring is in full swing!
Wow! The last few weeks have really been excellent weather for fishing. We have finally seen the last of our “cold” season and the soaring heat is already showing its presence. Likewise, the fishing has been on fire. Bait has moved to interior markers in the bay and showing up on certain areas on the flats. Spring tides have begun to flood mangrove shorelines and allow fish to feed and nourish in areas neglected during the winter months and the upcoming full moon should only provoke more fish to move in. All of which make for excellent fishing in Tampa Bay and surrounding fisheries.
Snook fishing is getting into its prime and good numbers of larger upper to over slot fish are consistently being caught and released. Backcountry, the bait of choice has been live Pilchards (white bait) either under a cork or free-lined on a #1 Mustad live bait hook with 20lb Ohero fluorocarbon leader. Look for some of the larger fish to be in passes and channel edges. Free-line a medium sized live Pinfish on a 3/0 Mustad circle hook with 30lb Ohero fluorocarbon leader and don’t be surprised to land the fish of a lifetime!
The Redfish are healthy! The past few trips have produced handfuls of quality fish ranging from 22-30”. Look for larger schools of Mullet on healthy grass flats along the South Shore for steady Redfish action. Smaller schools of 5-10 Redfish can be found mixed in with active Mullet. Anchoring up on a promising pothole or mangrove shoreline is also never a bad idea. Free-line a live Pilchard or cut Threadfin on a #2 Mustad live bait hook with 20lb Ohero fluorocarbon leader. If you don’t want to hassle with bait, a host of artificial lures will do. Early morning, evening, and low light conditions I prefer using top water, and generally the fish do too. Target activity areas on flats until the sun breaches over your shoulder, then switch to soft plastic or sub surface lures. A 3” D.O.A. Cal paired with a 3/8oz HookUp lure jig head is a true deadly combo when targeting mid day Redfish. Move around and make plenty of casts to cover the complete area before moving on to the next. Before you know it, your arms might be tired!
Trout remain in good numbers and most of the bigger fish are being caught actively feeding with the Snook and Redfish. This year and past winter have been, if not the best, one of the best years for catching true ‘gator’ Trout. Like others, they are willing to eat a variety of baits. However, chumming deeper potholes on the flats and channel edges with live Pilchards will produce good numbers of ‘keeper’ sized fish. Remember the ‘per angler’ bag limit on trout is total (4) larger than 15”. Of which, only (1) can be larger than 20”.
TARPON SEASON is just around the corner! It won’t be long until our schools of fish will be showing up on the beaches and passes. May, June, and late July, mark the annual Tarpon season in Tampa Bay and in general, both coasts of Florida. Contact me soon to book your dates for Tarpon fishing to secure a quality tide!
All-in-all this fishing season has moved fast upon us and it’s time to take advantage!
The weather has been nice and the fish have been ‘chewin’…
Capt. Travis Yaeckel