Is the FWC's decision to close snook and redfish until May 10th, 2019 a good idea? The majority of Tampa Fishing Guides would say yes. Growth in Pinellas County over the last 30 years has been significant, greater than 15%, and with this growth has come more fisherman. Local fish populations are a limited resource and must be protected.  Given the choice of eating a nice snook or catching one, most avid fishermen would prefer the latter. 

Clearwater Fall Snook Fishing

With continued warm weather, snook remain a viable option and are still being seen in all of their normal environments in good numbers. Groups of large fish are still inside the intercostal waterway and, on the right day, can be coaxed into biting. Small to medium fish are downright abundant and will be caught on almost all trips...at least until the weather turns cold, as it is forecast to do in the next few days. Whitebait is all over the beaches, as of this writing, and is a key ingredient in getting these fish to bite.  Chumming fish in backwater areas heavily with whitebait will generally get the action started.  Having other large baits available to present, such as big thread fin herring or grass grunts, will enhance the chances of getting a bigger specimen on the line.

Big Kingfish in Close to Tampa

The fast action fishing right now is off the coast however.  Large schools of thread fin herring have gathered and kingfish migrating down from the north have found them.  Most trips start with Tampa Fishing Captains sabilki'ing large thread fins and then slow trolling them back through these baits schools. This is the highest probability option for hooking kingfish. To add to the excitement, use medium heavy spinning rods loaded with 20 lbs braided line.  Fish in the 25 to 30 lbs class will make every effort to empty the spool on these rods so turning and chasing these fish is often required with this tackle. It creates a little mayhem when fish are first hooked but generally makes the whole experience more exciting and rewarding. As long as near shore waters are clear and temperatures remain above the mid sixties, the action should continue. Some of the largest Spanish mackerel in quite some time are mixed in with these kingfish and are taking the larger baits being used.  Numerous mackerel in the 5 - 6 pound class have been landed on Tampa Clearwater Fishing Charters over the last week. Occasional large bonita (bonito) show up as well and although these fish are among the worst tasting tuna, they still fight like one and provide great sport on this lighter tackle. The occasional blacktip shark and barracuda may appear out of nowhere...usually in an effort to eat what's being reeled in.

Higher tide phases produced excellent redfishing with slot and upper slot fish being landed. A larger school was located on a recent Tampa Fishing trip with more than 30 fish being landed.  Although this has been a less frequent occurrence over the past summer, these schools are still out there and the closure should only help.  Redfish are among the faster growing species and a little break from harvest could have a real positive affect. Bobbered pinfish and whitebait, split-shotted pinfish and cut baits have all been effective. Moving into late fall, redfish can become more challenging to catch as it seems fewer fish are available in St Joseph's Sound.  Lower winter tides also make access to these fish more difficult.

Fall Redfishing in Tampa Clearwater

With a break from the heat of summer imminent, it's a great time for outdoor activities. One option, especially if there is an interest in seeing some African Wildlife, is to make a trip to Lakeland to Safari Wilderness. In addition to this wildlife, also get an education about Florida's natural and human history. Wheedon Island Preserve is another great place to spend a day.  In excess of 3000 acres has been set aside to preserve this beautiful natural environment.  Many activities are available including kayaking, fishing and birdwatching.  Good luck and good fishing.

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