Spring thinks it's here, whether it should be or not. With water temperatures already reaching into the seventies, fish activity is great for early March. Large seatrout have remained the primary focus with large limits continuing to come. Redfish became a bit more reliable also with most late February Tampa / Clearwater Fishing Charters concluding with limits of both of the above mentioned fish. Last year, the seatrout, usually available inside of St Joseph's Sound into April, left ahead of schedule. Early warmth may likely cause the same phenomenon to repeat this year. As March progresses, look for redfish in exposed areas seeking the spring warmth....on oyster bars or sunny potholes on the flats. It's always wise to bring a few large shrimp through March as these crustacean eaters may still show a slight preference to this bait over others.
While targeting redfish on recent Tampa / Clearwater Fishing outings, snook crashed the party on several occasions...again a reminder that this spring may be in fast forward. Numerous Tampa Fishing Guides have started to plug in a few hours of snook fishing time per trip as a result. Although these spring fish tend to be a smaller average size than the bruisers of summer, they still provide great sport when hooked. Their sheer speed immediately differentiates them as a fast burning drag at the outset of the battle confirms their presence. These fish have been caught on both shrimp and whitebait, with the latter being preferable. Outsized baits...large thread fin, shad, small ladyfish.. are good to have in the arsenal when specifically targeting snook as these baits can be a difference maker when coaxing some of the larger specimens to bite.
The beauty of the spring/fall fishing seasons in the Clearwater Area is the diversity of species available. Nearshore fishing for snapper, mackerel and maybe even kingfish could be a possibility within the next few weeks. Heading out to rocky bottomed areas inside of 10 miles with mountains of whitebait for chum is the best way to get a read on the situation. Snapper, of course, provide excellent eating and kingfish on light tackle are great entertainment. Large schools of Spanish mackerel generally maintain a high level of rod bending activity...great for family fishing adventures. As a sidelight, spinner and blacktip sharks in the 30 - 100 lbs class will appear, when populations of these other fish gather, and can provide some great aerial displays when hooked. On days with strong tides, its conceivable to start on the outside, secure three of four different species of fish and then return inshore to chase trout and redfish...a awesome mix of fishing for a 6 - 8 hour Tampa Fishing Charter.
Aside from great fishing, it's spring training time. Visit local teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin or the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater for a relaxing and entertaining day. Or enjoy the great outside and a little music at the Gasparilla Music Festival (March 11th and 12th) in downtown Tampa. No matter what activity you choose, local temperatures are generally very comfortable this time of year.
If the boat or tackle needs some work, get it done soon. Local fishing is about to go off. Good luck and good fishing.
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