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Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Guarino: February’s best bets are blacktip sharks

The weather plays a big part in our ability to catch fish. That’s been so true this month as roller coaster temperatures, wind and rain have kept most of us inside.

We’ve caught our share of small trout, sheepshead ranging from less than a pound to well over two pounds and plenty of blacktip sharks cruising the warm waters at the Big Bend Power Plant.

We’ve had good success with trout in South Shore waters from Bishop Harbor north to the Apollo Beach area. One tactic used to catch trout is to drift a patchy grass flat and cast a favored artificial bait.

I like the gold paddle tale plastic bait from DOA. I pick my color based on the clarity of the water. In clear water I use light colors and in dark water, the darker colored baits. This seems to do the trick for me.

If you’re fishing with live bait, try working large patchy grass areas. Approach the area quietly and let the wind help move you along. Once you get to the area set your anchor and fish until you are ready to move. When you are ready just pull the anchor up and let the wind blow you to the next spot. You would be surprised at how effective this technique is. It’s all about being quiet and moving to the next group of fish. Shrimp seem to work fine and are readily available in the local bait shops.

Capt. Jason Prieto of Ruskin reported catching several blacktip sharks in the warm water runoff near Apollo Beach. These sharks are fun to catch and put up a pretty good fight on light tackle. Live shrimp on a bobber seems to be the bait of choice. Just anchor up in shallow water and cast into the deeper water. There seems to be a bit of a dropoff near the approaching channel as you head for the northern part of Apollo Beach. Anchor out of the channel and try to get your bait near the dropoff.

Another bright spot this week has been the appearance of sheepshead. I use small, live shrimp for bait using a No. 2 hook. I set up in an area that has structure and just drop the bait over the side.

I like doing this in deeper areas. Just drop your anchor on the outside edge and up-tide from structure. It is very important to be patient and expect to use a lot of shrimp. When I head out I usually carry about 15 dozen. On a good day I’ll go through them all!

Redfish action seems to be picking up. We’ve been catching reds on the outside edge of the grass flats that line the South Shore area. Low tide seems to be the best time to fish. With this pattern, redfish tend to feed more or less as the water drops out of the flats. Anchor up close to the dropoff and be patient. Shrimp works really well with these fish.

Get out and enjoy this great place we live in. South Shore has some of the best fishing Florida has to offer.

Danny Guarino is one of three Ruskin-based fishing guides and charter captains who share this column. He can be reached at (813) 956-2010 or [email protected]

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