Sheepshead are spawning this time of year and due to this, we are finding sheepshead throughout the area biting very well. In the bay around the rock piles and bridges you can find big numbers of sheepshead. Also, in the passes around the bridges, docks and jetties. Plus, in the residential canals plenty of sheepies can be found around the docks and seawalls. These guys don’t mind the muddier cool water that comes behind a cold front, but they will feed in clearer waters too. Yesterday we had a team working to clean the bottom of our boats by scraping barnacles and you could literally hand feed the aggressive sheepshead while cleaning the boats this is how thick they are when you chum them up by scraping off barnacles from the pilings you are fishing around. Fiddler crabs, small pieces of shrimp, cut clams or oysters, and even artificial crab baits are working to catch plenty of sheepshead around the area.
Trout bite continues to be impressive through the area day or night. During the day the grass flat edges, residential docks in wind protected areas, or mangrove shorelines are great areas to target trout with live shrimp, soft plastics, or white bait. At night, we are seeing them in the dock lights and bridge lights where the live bait schools are active, and they will take the same bait that works well during the day for the speckled trout. Silver trout are mainly at night in the passes and during the day on the beaches, jetties or gulf beaches piers.
Snook bit very well through the start of this week with the warmer weather they really got frisky and moved around while feeding very well. You must target them on the right tides, but if your able to get on them it’s a great time to go catch and release some snook. I love to utilize the smart fishing tides website by salt strong to find out when the fishing will be best according to the tides, solunars and other weather variables for the area I will be fishing inshore. This past week the passes produced snook at night along with the residential dock lights. During the day the residential docks protected from the wind worked well if you were fishing close to the shoreline along with plenty of snook along the flats and mangrove shorelines.
Redfish cooperated pretty well again this week, but not quite as active as the snook. We saw redfish caught along the shallower 2-4ft grass flats, oyster bars, and mangrove areas. These guys were loving small pinfish, live shrimp or white bait when using live options. Artificials that worked well were the white paddle tail which seems to be the latest and greatest option in our area along with the mirror lures and zman mullet.
Mackerel are getting more prolific in the area and they are biting best when water is clean around the local piers, passes, jetties and mouth of the bay. These guys love live white bait or fast-moving flashy lures like the gotcha plugs, casting spoons or the yo-zuri crystal minnow. They prefer moving water with lots of live bait around for them to feed aggressively. These guys require a faster moving action on your artificial lure to get them to chew.
Pompano action is good around fort de soto area, skyway approaches and pass a grill pass when the water is cleared up and cleaner. We are seeing these guys mostly on the pompano jigs, but you can catch them using live sand fleas for bait too. Lighter tackle is key as they are very picky eaters.
Tarpon starting to show up in the area, and they will only get more and more prolific as that water temperature gets right. Typically, around may is when the tarpon run really kicks into high gear and they start to really feed more actively in larger groups at the mouth of Tampa bay around the skyway to Egmont key and other local passes in smaller numbers.