Windy conditions dominated the end of March and the first part of April but things are beginning to return to normal now. Redfish, snook and trout were all open in April so anglers once again enjoyed the opportunity to take home all three species. Effective May 1st, however, snook's status goes back to closed until September 1st and that's just as well, as these fish are most vulnerable to being caught during their summer spawning season. Protecting these fish, especially the big females that flock to local beaches over the next few months, is critical to protecting population numbers in heavily fished areas like Pinellas County. 

The large sea trout of St Joseph's Sound have, right on schedule, departed from inside the sound and have taken up residence in swash channels out on the beach. Once located, fishing can be non stop and can mirror the great winter fishing inside the sound. That said, it may take a little effort to find where the fish are concentrated. The best approach is to start with a live well full of pilchards and prospect various locations on the beach, chumming regularly. Do remember that the limit is now 3 fish 15 - 19 inches per person with only one fish over 19 inches allowed PER BOAT.

Redfishing has been consistent over the last month with fish of all sizes available. There seems to be an abundance of slot fish. Typically, redfish will gather in same sized schools so if you're looking for bigger fish than you are catching, land a few and then move on. 30 inch plus fish are available in decent numbers although, on recent charters, many of these big fish have been solos. Days with higher tides generally produce the best redfishing as the fish can move up to their favorite dining areas on these tides. Some Tampa Fishing Captains prefer to fish mangrove shorelines before the water gets too high, as fish can move way back into the sticks. Fishing can remain good thru these tides however. By chumming productive shorelines, fish can be pulled to the front of the bushes where anglers baits are waiting. Continue to keep in mind that redfish almost always eat so if you're not getting bit, keep moving.

In typical years, May is the month when snook fishing really takes off and there is every indication that this year will be no different. Although fish are still being caught in the backwaters and along spoil islands and mangrove shorelines inside of the barrier islands, some fish are appearing on the beach and it won't be long until large concentrations of fish take up residence beach-side. These fish see continuous pressure through spawning season, which lasts from now until the end of July / early August. This being the case, there are some basic rules of thumb to follow. First, be patient.  Don't expect to pull up on a group of fish and have them bite immediately. Second, have plenty of bait. Chumming can often turn docile fish into hungry ones. Third, have a variety of baits.  Oftentimes, a bait change will produce an immediate bite. Pilchards, thread fins, grass grunts, pinfish, slippery dicks, and ladyfish would all qualify as baits a snook might be looking for on any given day. Fourth, don't make excessive casts into a group of fish. Laying line over a group of fish repeatedly can turn them off. Fifth, always manage line in a way that leaves the least amount of line between the angler and the bait while not influencing how the bait swims. This provides a natural presentation to the fish while also allowing the angler to see exactly what is going on with the bait.  A bite from a very large snook can be extremely subtle and minimizing slack allows the angler to see this strike. Good luck and good fishing.



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