By Travis Yaeckel
Spring fishing in Tampa Bay has been great. On the SouthShore, my clients have had some incredible days on the water catching Snook, Redfish, Trout and Spanish Mackerel. We have definitely had some less desirable fishing conditions on certain trips, but nevertheless the fish have been biting. Pilchards (whitebait, greenbacks, scaled sardines) have been the bait of choice and plentiful on most grass flats and certain range markers throughout the bay.
The Redfish have moved inshore in strong numbers, and on the higher tides these fish are pushing further back into areas that are too shallow to fish most parts of the year. On the lower water, the fish have been staging up in creeks and deep water edges along the sandbars and channels.
Snook fishing has still been strong on all parts of the SouthShore. Most mangrove points and shorelines will hold schools of smaller fish. As water temperatures increase, the larger fish will begin to move to deeper water around bridges and passes to prepare for their spawn. Trout have been holding in the deeper sand holes on the grass flats, normally closer to areas that have a lot of moving water. During periods of “slack” tide and weather permitting, we have been fishing deeper areas of the bay for Mackerel. Large schools of Threadfin Herring are a great indicator for locating these toothy predators.
As we push our way through May and into summer, expect to see schools of Tarpon making their way from the beaches to the bay. If you choose to fish for them, plan to use heavy tackle for the Silver Kings. A small blue crab, pass crab, or live Threadfin Herring will normally get their attention. Look for them rolling at sunrise and sunset near the bridges and deep water channels.
We are approaching the time of year where the fishing can be hot, literally and figuratively speaking. With the increasing water temperatures during the day, fishing the early morning and late afternoon bite can generally be more productive.