So.....redfish, snook and sea trout are closed until May 2021. This news flash was a bit of a surprise to most Tampa Fishing Guides. As with most things in life however, it's always better to take the "half full approach".  Sure, there are potential customers who want a fish dinner and won't fish as a result of this latest ruling BUT think of how many fish are going to be out there to be caught!! Expect to see snook and redfish fishing get better and better.  It's already happening with the trout.  Double and triple limits are fairly common as of right now. Quite honestly, red tide never reached the inshore waters of St Joseph's Sound so it isn't unrealistic to expect outstanding fishing in the coming 2 years. And the flip side.... commentary from a recent customer from Basil who loves to catch snook.  The last time he visited he indicated that Brasil has massive snook, but they never catch them any more as, when these fish congregate to spawn, commercial fishermen clear out these big fish every year. Their snook populations are in trouble.  He spent 2 days in Florida, caught 15 or 20 decent snook, and said he just wished his country had the resources to be able to protect fish like in the US. 

Tampa Bay Clearwater Big Snapper Fishing

Another advantage that Tampa Bay Fishing Captains have is that there are a multitude of species to target.  If you're interested in a great fish dinner as March approaches, target mangrove snapper on near shore rocks and reefs. These fish are very cautious, especially in nearshore waters where hooks regularly pass them by.  Nevertheless, these fish are available in decent numbers for anglers willing to put in the time.  Light lines and a lot of patience are certainly required, as are a diversity of presentations.  By switching baits, leader lengths and pound test, and weighting, on certain days the magic combination can be found and these fish became relatively easy to catch....but catch fast when the opportunity arises because as quickly as the bite turns on, it will cease. 

Inshore, as mentioned above, the trout bite is exceptionally good.  When one considers how many trout are typically harvested in a given year by local anglers and captains, it's no surprise.  Just do the math.  There are probably a dozen local captains who regularly fish out in front of Ozona / Crystal Beach.  Last year, these captains could harvest 4 fish per angler.  Take twelve captains fishing just 2 days a week with an average party of 3 anglers and that means that every week, 288 trout are removed.  This doesn't even include everyone else who is out there targeting these fish and there are certainly many recreational angers that have the trout program dialed in. Bottom line, trout are already very abundant. Whitebait, shrimp and jugs are all taking fish with relative ease. 

Winter Seatrout and Redfish in Tampa

Redfishing, which is generally best from March to October, has already been better than average in February and it's logical to expect really good numbers as the summer progresses as redfish are a fast growing species. As a result, the population should respond quickly to the recent closed season. On the most recent Tampa Fishing Charter for redfish, fish from 20 - 25 inches were left biting after some 15 - 20 had already been landed. The slower growing snook may take a bit longer to show gains, but three years of no harvest has to result in an improved fishery as well. All good.

Interested in catching one of Australia's premier freshwater gamefish.  Visit Osceola Outback Fishing Adventures, near Orlando, to catch the snook-like barramundi. If getting a sneak preview of the Tampa Bay Rays sounds like a better option, take a road trip to Port Charlotte and visit them during spring training. Good luck and Good fishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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