May has always been the month when snook really come into their own in West Central Florida....populating their normal beach hangouts.  As April came to a close, these fish were still available in a variety of environments. Some fish remained in the bayous and creeks, others lingered on the spoil islands and along mangrove shorelines inside the barrier islands and yes, some had already made it to the beach.  Numbers on the beach side are still inconsistent however so the expectation would be that the real volume of fish will move there on the first big tides of May.  The harvest season will have closed, but the fishing should go wide open. As is always the case, Tampa / Clearwater Fishing Guides will fish larger whitebaits and grunts on the moving tides.  When these tides happen early or late in the day, chances of getting on a good bite only improve. 

Snook Fishing in Tampa
Redfishing was excellent over the last month both in terms of the volume and size of the fish. Most recent Tampa Fishing Charters yielded numerous over slot fish as well as a good mix of medium to upper slot specimens. Schools of fish were located on some days providing non stop action.  On others, methodically working down productive shoreline stretches produced sporadic quality fish.  In either case. limits were achieved on almost every trip. A common saying, and it certainly applies to redfish, is that 99% of the fish are in about 1% of the ocean. Keep this saying in mind when pursuing these fish.  On several charters over the last week, fish were caught on the 3rd, 4th or 5th spots tried.  Once found though, multiple fish were typically caught...if not on the same exact spot, within the same general area. Persistent effort will generally produce redfish. Bait selection is not critical, with most types of cut fish, as well as live pinfish and whitebait all working well.

The best seatrout fishing season in recent memory is winding down. As water temperatures rise, these larger fish just up and leave St. Joseph's Sound with most having no plans to return until late next fall.  Scattered trout are still being found on the beaches.  Interestingly though, a much higher percentage of the fish are the smaller males....14 - 17inches.  Almost all of the 18 plus inch fish caught over the last three to four months have been females.  This, in itself, speaks to the strength of the fishery.  While limits of large female trout have been harvested almost every day since late November / Early December, it is truly amazing that fishing never slowed.  Right up until their departure, limits of large fish were being caught with relative ease.  Hopefully, next year will see a repeat of this performance.

May Charter Fishing Clients 

On the flip side, Spanish mackerel were strangely absent from near shore reefs over the last six weeks.  These fish generally provide a great "safety valve" for Tampa / Clearwater Fishing Guides as, on days that have weak tides, when inshore fishing can be tough, high volume mackerel fishing can save the day..  Although several trips did result in decent fish counts, these mackerel were far from dependable and never really showed up consistently in big numbers. Their larger cousins, the kingfish, also only made a brief appearance in close to shore.  With summer like water temperatures, it's a safe bet that it will be fall before these fish become a primary target again.

With springtime being a great time to be outside, go visit Safari Wilderness Ranch in Lakeland.  Numerous African animals roam the 260 acres of grassland here making this experience less like a theme park and more like a wilderness adventure. For a unique water experience, rent a JetLev Flyer at the Tradewinds Hotel on St Pete Beach.  These jet packs will take a customer 30 feet in the air and travel at speeds up to 30 miles per hour.

Good luck and good fishing.


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