Bobby Bridges and Nate Weckler lost count catching Snook on a recent charter with Capt. Travis Yaeckel.

The Bay Is Busy!

We have been busy at Instinct Fishing Co. running charters daily and fishing through the last few cold fronts of the year. At times, the fishing was a bit tough, but I believe we are finally through the rough patches and back to our normal pattern on fish. As always, this time of year snook have been the highlight of our trips but the trout bite has also been great in some areas. Redfish have also started showing up and we are catching them more consistently. Moving into April the spring bite will continue to get better. The next key factor is when bait starts showing up on the major inshore flats along the south shore.

Snook fishing can be one of the most exciting and action-packed fishing experiences in our area. Since they are a schooling fish, its not uncommon to catch quite a few in a single spot in a short amount of time. When the bite is on, you can hardly get a bait in the water before it gets eaten. A majority of the fish we are catching are 18-24” with larger ones in the mix. Live chumming can sometimes be the key to get or keep the bite going. During the slack portions of the tide, cut bait will also keep the lines tight.

When we are not catching snook, we have been trout fishing. Right now, they are on the move. Like the snook, they travel and live in schools. Lately, we have been locating some nice fish and catching plenty of quality slots and gator trout. However, it has been a ‘here one day, gone the next’ type pattern. In the coming weeks, we will shift our focus to the grass flats in conjunction with the bait showing up. I like targeting the deeper potholes (sandy areas) in 4-6’ water where the flow is the strongest. If we are fishing over heavy grass, I will use a float. Otherwise, I prefer to free-line my baits. Live pilchards (greenbacks, white bait) is the bait of choice and the size isn’t critical. Sometimes, the smaller bait is more productive for trout fishing.

Last but not least, we are starting to see some numbers on redfish. We have been targeting them on the higher tides and have been successful fishing the deeper mangrove shorelines. With the amount of boat traffic and snook fishing in our area, the shallow water redfish fishing can sometimes be a challenge, especially on a weekend. I have found that fishing deeper cover is a good way to stay on fish. I like using bigger baits and casting them up under the mangroves. It can be tricky to get them out, but with a little coaching, its not too bad. The average size fish is about 22” but we have caught several upper and over slot fish in the last few weeks. That is a good sign that we should start finding some larger schools soon.

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Captain Travis Yaeckel is a native resident of the SouthShore area and charters full time for Redfish, Snook, Trout, and Tarpon. He is owner and operator of Instinct Fishing Co.,based out of lower Tampa Bay. To book a charter, call 830-FISH or visit Catch him on Tampa Fishing Outfitters Radio Show on Sunday mornings from 8-9 a.m. at 1040 a.m. Sports Talk the Team.