By Captain Brian Lemelin, Optimus Fishing Charters

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) impacting everyone’s life and social distancing becoming the norm, the first thing I have noticed is the amount of boats on Tampa Bay has increased significantly. The weather has been extremely warm, the water has warmed up to around 78 degrees and the live bait has come into the bay.

This means spring fishing is upon us. Although snook, redfish and trout are still closed (through May 2021), they are readily available to be caught.

Snook are located along the cuts and mangrove line throughout Cockroach Bay. Fifty-plus snook days are now common. Greenbacks have been the bait of choice. Chumming has been necessary to fire them up.

Redfish have been found in the same locations. Greenbacks, threadfins, shrimp and cut bait have all resulted in hookups on these tough-fighting fish.

The Spanish mackerel have followed the bait into the bay. Macks between 18” and 28” are being caught on live bait and gold spoons. This is pretty much nonstop action once you find the macks. Remember to use long shank hooks and 40-pound clear leader to reduce break-offs.

As the water continues to warm, big fish season (my favorite season), blacktip sharks, cobia, kingfish and Goliath grouper will soon be arriving.

Stay healthy, keep distance and as long as we are allowed, stay fishing.

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