May has arrived and our short spring season is just about gone. With summer around the corner, water temperatures will begin to skyrocket.
Temperatures ran way below normal all of March and into early April but started rising to normal levels after the middle of the month. The deeper grass flats and sunny mangrove shore lines have been very productive the past few months, but as water temperatures rise to normal levels, focusing on the shallower grass flats and area passes will be more prudent.
Trout fishing in April was very good in deeper water. By April’s end the trout seemed to migrate toward shallower waters. Best time to target would be early morning when the water tends to be a little cooler.
Try working the grass beds in two feet of water early and then move on to deeper grass as the sun gets higher in the sky. The bigger trout are loners and tend to show up early in the shallower water. I would guess they’re moving inshore to some of the deeper potholes later in the day.
The South Shore flats have been holding some nice redfish but they still haven’t schooled up. Try working the mangrove shore line by tossing live pilchards into the shaded areas. We catch one or two of them, and then move on to the next spot.
This would be an excellent time to work artificial lures along the mangrove tree lines. I like to use gold spoons that I can toss under the mangroves. I move quietly along the tree-lined shore using my trolling motor ever so slowly.
Spanish mackerel fishing has been good the past few weeks inside Tampa Bay, and you can expect this trend to continue through June. The first mackerel showed up in early February before the cold weather arrived.
When fishing mackerel use scaled sardines as bait on a hook and as chum. Look for the big bait pods; the mackerel won’t be far behind.
Moving into April the snook bite slowed and I suspect we’ll see an upturn in catch reports as we near the May and June spawning phase. If you catch a snook this time of year, please be extra careful with your handling procedures.
We again need a good spawning season to help repopulate the species. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be making a decision soon as to whether or not to re-open snook season along Florida’s west coast. I feel we should hold off at least one more year, allow the species to spawn through 2014 and then re-evaluate the health of the species and possibly open the season in September of 2014.
This time of year I like to mix it up by targeting redfish and trout on the grass flats and Spanish mackerel in open Tampa Bay waters. White bait will be my bait of choice.