Recent FWC commission meeting made final ruling on the closure for snook, redfish and trout and they decided to continue that for our region until end of May 2021. This was in response to the 2017-2018 red tide in our area, and it is trying to allow those species to rebuild their stocks before harvest begins again.
Sheepshead bite has been on fire this past week around the entire bay area from the back bays to the passes any structure was producing plenty of the great eating sheepshead. We should have a good bite of sheepshead for a few more weeks, but it will slow down as the water starts to warm up. This past week we did have some warmer weather bring us some warmer waters. Luckily this didn’t slow down the sheepshead bite thankfully and we have some chilly temps on the way the next few days to keep us in the range for happy cooperative sheepshead.
Mackerel have been biting well around the area the past two weeks with these warmer weather periods we have seen quite the increase in mackerel. Especially around the mouth of Tampa bay, our local passes and just off the beaches.
Speckled Trout bite has been steady through the area too. During the day out on the flats, residential dock lines and mangrove shorelines are holding trout. At night the docks or bridge lights are great places to catch trout. The soft plastic paddletail has been working very well for trout, but you can use an artificial shrimp as a great option too. For live bait, live shrimp or greenbacks are great options to catch plenty of speckled trout.
The silver trout have been super thick along the sandy bottoms of our beaches and passes. At night targeting them around the pass can produce large numbers of the silver trout. Great fun on lighter tackle, similar to the speckled trout the white soft plastic paddletail has been the best option.
Whiting are cooperating well around the Tampa bay channels and along our beaches and from our local beach piers. Typically, on the bottom you can find them ready to eat some live shrimp or slow moving artificials like doc’s jigs. I often run into this as bycatch when targeting pompano along the beaches.
Pompano bite has been picky but present through the area. You got to hit them at the right time in the right area and these fish can move quite a bit up and down our beaches and passes. The hot spots have been around Anna Maria, the sky way approaches, fort de soto and pass a grille.
Snook action heated up pretty good this week along with our local waters. They really spread out nicely in a hurry as water warmed. This past week we had an issue with our shrimp tank one morning causing a big escapement of shrimp and it was like summer time again with all these snook chasing and popping shrimp on the surface around our dock just before sunrise. There has been quite a few caught during the day around the dock at Hubbard’s Marina this week too. Mostly on live shrimp or live pigfish around the dock. However, the bite went well for many anglers around the bay area on the flats, mangrove shorelines and the residential dock lines brought out some cooperative snook.
Redfish bite was steady this past week around the shallower mangrove shorelines, grass flats, residential docks and oyster bars. Great area to look for them this time of year is around those grass flats holding staging mullet. Redfish are also big fans of the slow moving white soft plastic paddletail this past week but small pinfish, live shrimp and even greenbacks work well for the redfish too. Lighter tackle is always a good idea when the water is clearer.