The Fish Are Biting, But You Can’t Keep ‘Em

tampa sheepshead
02/28/2020

Snook, redfish and trout are going to be catch and release only until end of May 2021 in our area but that hasn’t stopped them from cooperating. The weather has been tough but the fish are biting when your able to get out there in between the weather fronts dodging the high winds, rain and sea conditions. The bite should be best throughout our area during this weekend and the start of the coming week outside of Saturday when another small front will pass through our area.

Sheepshead bite is definitely the highlight this past week even through the more turbulent weather the sheepshead are continuing to bite well. They seem to be at their height of the spawn which has them biting well around the flats, on the bay side and gulf side structure, and even on the near shore hard bottom areas in big aggressive aggregations. These guys are taking live shrimp, fiddlers, clams, oysters, barnacles and pretty much any crustacean presented to them. Sheepshead technique is very similar to the hogfish technique you want to use lighter tackle and lightest possible weight with a natural presentation. The only difference for the sheepies is that you are fishing right on or adjacent to the structure while the hogfish tend to be just outside or alongside the structure areas.

flounder

Redfish bite is a little tougher this past week but that didn’t stop some experienced anglers from catching decent numbers around the back bay mangrove shorelines, the dock lines in the residential canals and even some out on the flats. Smaller live pinfish, soft plastic paddle tails and some medium to large shrimp seemed to be the best baits for them this past week. Weather has been tough, and you got to find that weather window with moving water to get these guys to eat. When its colder out the early to mid afternoon time in the shallower 2-4ft areas are good places to target these redfish. They tend to be aggregated pretty well along the seawalls and underneath residential docks trying to soak up some heat too.
Snook action has been pretty good despite the weather. Most of these guys are coming up around the flats of the back bay and upper bay areas, residential dock lines, and a few on the beaches and in the pass prior to the bad weather. When it warms up for a few days in a row they tend to start spreading out into the passes and slowly onto the beach but then as a front approaches they quickly head back up into the bay looking for warmer shallow water in the residential canals and the bayous and river mouths. Large live shrimp, white bait on the flats and soft plastic paddle tails were the hot baits this past week for snook in our area.

Speckled Trout bite has been great during the nice weather and pretty good during even the tough weather if you could find a wind protected shoreline to target them. We saw some really large speckled trout this past week as well around the grass flats during the day and at night around the dock lights and bridge lights throughout the area. These guys love the artificial shrimp or soft plastics and if you prefer live bait the live shrimp or white bait work well.

Silver trout and whiting are biting pretty consistently around the passes, channels and along our beaches right now. Great time to get out there with the family and target these fun to catch fairly aggressive species. Whiting and silver trout both can be caught just outside the surf on the beaches, from the local beach piers, and around the local jetties. At night the silver trout will even cooperate in the passes. They both like feeding closer to the bottom on slower moving soft plastics. However, you need a little heavier jig head to get casting distance past the surf and to allow you to keep it right on or just above the bottom.

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