Tampa Fishing Reports

April 2009 Fishing Report

March met fishermen's expectations by delivering greatly improved fishing. With water temperatures stabilizing over the seventy degree mark, all of our inshore species responded well. Large seatrout were still abundant and, on days with strong tidal movement, usually fed aggressively for several hours. Size seemed to increase last month as well with several 26 inch fish making an appearance. The only change in technique required for these "spring" fish is a change of bait. When whitebait shows up, these large trout seem to snub there noses at the big shrimp they were devouring a few short weeks before. Loose the bobber and free line your whitebait for best results. April fishing for seatrout should continue to be excellent with large fish a continuing possibility. The abundant redfish sighted on late February charters did begin to eat a lot more aggressively as the weather warmed. On days with agreeable weather and good tides, 10 to 20 fish days were not uncommon. On the weaker tides, it required more work to catch fish but 3 to 6 fish was typical. Like the trout, redfish found the newly arrived whitebait quite enticing but seemed to favor three inch pinfish over everything else on some days...not surprising when you consider what fish redfish are likely to encounter on almost any grass flat. Cut baits, as always, caught their share of fish and were very effective around docks. As redfish and mullet schools are now back up on the flats, keep your eyes peeled for jumping mullet. Since they tend to associate with each other, baits tossed into the midst of these mullet may be eaten by redfish on cast after cast. In addition to the improved redfish action, some large black drum invaded the intercoastal waterway for a few days this last month. Using standard inshore rods and 15 lbs test, several anglers felt the thrill of landing twenty five to forty pound fish on light tackle. With five straight days of eighty degree temperatures in the second to last week of March, inshore water temperatures surged to 75 degrees and the snook took note. On three separate trips in the last week, groups of hungry snook were located. About two thirds of these fish were below the legal limit of 28 inches, but a snook of any size always provides great sport. Several legal fish were landed, but more were actually lost as big snook hooked near residential docks have a significant advantage over the angler. Their scorching runs are still very exciting to witness, whether these fish are ultimately landed or not. Large whitebaits were the ticket for hooking these fish. Fish these baits with no weight and allow the bait fish to swim freely, but manage your slack line so that you know where the bait is. When a snook hits the bait, you will feel a distinct tick on your line. This may be followed immediately by a strong run or jump. If you feel this tick and then nothing happens, reel until you feel the weight of the fish and then set the hook. If the fish has eaten your bait and swims at you, this technique insures that you will still get a hook into him. If you see a surface boil anywhere near where you think your bait is, reel down to check for a fish as well. Often times, a bait will run to the surface to escape and this is where the snook catches up to it. Snook will continue to be located on interior points and near canal mouths in the coming month but will also start to move out towards our beaches, with some posting up at spoil islands. Fishing for these great game fish will only get better as spring progresses. Before March ended, Spanish mackerel began showing up in the intercoastal waterway. Then, preliminary reports of kingfish began to surface off of the Pinellas County Coast so it appears that these fish are now here. With that said, the big blow that came in over the last weekend of March may have pushed the fish off the beach a little ways but they should be back when our east wind returns. So spring fishing has begun and there's a great opportunity to catch a broad range of fish right now. Good luck and good fishing.

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