Well, the heat has been turned back on in the Bay and that can only mean the fishing is getting hot. Water temperatures are almost 80 degrees, and the grasses are back. The summer tides are moving and giving us plenty of water in the backwaters.
Trout are thick right now, and hungry. Artificial jigs are the way to go for catching a few dinner fish. A 1/8-ounce jig head with a soft plastic of your choice will make finding these fish much easier. Try to stress the use of jigs versus live bait for the sake of survivability of the trout and eliminate lots of gut hook-ups that may result in the demise of many released trout. Search the flats and find the deeper pockets that will hold fine schools of trout. Also, remember the limits of 15-19 in., one over 19 in. and three trout per person.
Tarpon will be rolling in mid-May in the outside passes around Egmont, around the bridge and also over some of the inshore reefs. These silver beasts can usually be caught on dead baits like threadfins. Chum heavy in the tides and let a bait drift back with a hook in it. These fish can be very finicky, but when they turn on, it is game on. Heavier spinning gear with a 6000 series reel is the best bet for being able to get these silver giants to the boat.
Regulations for catching and releasing tarpon prohibit removing the fish from the water, so keep that in mind when catching tarpon. “Right place at the right time” is the general motto for tarpon, and strong tides are best.
Spanish mackerel will be gathered in schools and crushing the threadfins. On the calmer days, it will be easy to spot and chase the bait pods for some sight fishing action with live bait, jigs or plugs. Be alert for crevalle jack (canal tuna) to be into these bait pods as well.
Redfish are around, but the large schools have broken up. Finding singles under the mangroves with a groomed pinfish will be your best bet. Trimming some tail and the dorsal fin with scissors will slow the baitfish down but not kill it. Redfish like the shaded areas under the mangroves, as do snook. Remember that snook are closed until September.