It got hot quick, I’m talking about the weather and the fishing… whew! The snook bite has been the best in years and there are plenty of redfish stacked up in the potholes in all areas of Tampa Bay. And lookout, tarpon are next with these warm water temps along the coast.
Additionally, there is plenty of action nearshore with Kingfish, Spanish Macks and Bluefish. And I’ve been able to put a few clients on some nice Cobia north of the Bay Area but I’ve seen a few big Cobes around Gandy area as well.
Here’s some of the action you can expect in the shallows:
Trout– Now that water temps are getting really warm, you might want to target the big trout with a Mirrolure She Dog or Zman Pop Shadz in the pre-dawn hours. Once the sun gets high slide off into 4′ to 6′ of water and toss Mirrolure 52M’s or Heavy Dines for more consistent action on the specks or try the Zman Shrimpz under a popping cork on a 1/8 ounce jig head. The lower end of Tampa Bay or St. Joseph’s Sound will be the best zones to target in May.
Redfish– The water is super clear around our area right now so the Redfish have been pretty spooky! Especially with all the redfish tournament pressure keeping them on the move. Focus on flats that get a little more wind and are somewhat deeper 2′ to 3′ where the redfish will be more relaxed. Straight crank a Zman Minnowz in either “Redbone” or ” Houdini” on a 1/4 ounce jig head and you should be able to catch a few nice reds. If you are sight fishing the shallows, use the new BTB Jig in “Rootbeer/Gold”… just lead the sighted red by a few feet on the cast and drag the jig on the bottom. The redfish can resist this presentation, I promise!
Cobia– I’m seeing a few bigger Southern Stingrays cruising the flats of Tampa Bay and further north in Pasco & Hernando Counties. Often you’ll see a Cobia or two piggybacking these rays and eager to hit a well placed jig! My best producer is the 1/4 ounce BTB Jig in ” Houdini” with a 3″ trailer attached to make profile look bigger. Add a little Pro Cure “Crab” scent to jig and its really academic once the Cobia sees the jig… just hang on!
Snook– Best bite in years for snook enthusiasts, in fact last week my client Lacey Carpenter (see pic above) caught a 42″ monster snook on a “Rootbeer/Gold” 4″ Paddlerz in Tampa Bay! Try a surface lure at dawn or dusk like the Mirrolure Top Dog Jr. or a Mirrolure 7M on flats with deeper water close by… that’s important. During the brighter hours you have to fish in the deeper cuts that have some moving water with swim baits like Zman Swimmerz, Paddlerz, or Diezel Minnowz on 1/4 to 3/8 weighted hooks/Jig heads. All areas of Tampa Bay hold snook so action is widespread but the lower end of Bay will produce best moving into the summer. Please practice catch and release with these fish and handle with care, it’s nice to see them rebounding.
Tarpon– They are not here in great numbers yet. But, there are a few rolling around Bay Area bridges every morning now. Stay tuned, by Mother’s Day this month it should be as good as it gets! Most importantly, be patient and courteous to other tarpon anglers, that way we all have a chance to catch a silver king.
Here’s a quick reminder, The new episodes of Flats Class TV (Season 9) have already cranked up on both Sun Sports (Fox South) and Discovery’s “Destination America” networks! The next episode (#4) features a trip with Power Pole’s, John Oliverio, catching snook with me in Charlotte Harbor on a variety of artificial baits. Lots of tips and tactics in this new episode! All shows are HD and we have some great footage from the Everglades to the Texas Coast this season… don’t miss an episode.
Lastly, please consider joining the CCA and participating in the upcoming CCA Star Tournament lots of incredible prizes that include a new pickup truck, HB Skiff, Pathfinder Bay Boat and much more… we need your participation, voice and support, to protect our resource & fishing rights! Let’s get involved Flats Class fans!
Until next time, keep them rods bent!