Cold fronts have thinned out and the few that are still hitting us are not as strong as we had seen earlier in the year. This has made for the consistent kind of weather that makes spring fishing some of the best of the year. The nice weather mixed fishing around new and full moon weeks that cause optimal tidal flow means some great spring-time fishing is ahead.
Lately snook fishing has been good as most continue to migrate to the flats in search of food. Fishing around the troughs and cuts created by tidal flow are great areas to fish for snook since they use these areas as ambush points for bait. Good numbers have been holding around the potholes surrounding the shallow flats. Targeting these areas on lower tides makes it easier to locate them.
White bait (aka greenbacks) is key right now as it starts to move around the range markers and deeper areas. Throwing a heavy, big net is very important since the bait is deep and water very clear. I’ve had to use a Calusa 12-foot, 3/8-inch mesh net to get bait as it has the right amount of weight and size to get down before the bait swims out. Also using some M-80 supercharged chum during the slower tides will bring the bait closer to the surface and make it a bit easier to catch. As we make our way towards the warmer weather look for bait to make its surge onto the flats. This too will make catching it a little easier when big schools move into the shallows.
Redfish also will start to make their surge onto the flats as the spring mullet run develops. Look in the same places you’re catching snook on the flats and typically redfish aren’t far behind. Reds are roaming fish so being a little more patient is the secret to catching them. Artificial baits work great and save you a couple hours of trying to catch bait. You can’t go wrong with the Mirrolure Mirodine when targeting redfish or trout. Another great way to fish reds is to suspend a greenback under a Cajun Thunder Back Bay Thunder popping cork. Using this technique will draw the fish in.
Trout fishing continues to flourish this time of year with water temperatures in the mid 70s. Look around the flats with good tidal flow. These are great areas to start. When targeting trout you can have a productive day using both live and artificial bait. One of my favorites is the Z-man pearl white PaddlerZ hooked with a 1/8-ounce jig head. If live bait is your choice, trying using a Cajun Thunder float with a select live shrimp or greenback. Trout love noise and the Cajun Thunder “clacking noise” is something they can’t resist.
Jason Prieto is one of three Ruskin-based fishing guides and charter captains who share this column. He can be reached at (813) 727-9890 or [email protected]