Tampa Fishing Reports

May 2008 Fishing Report

After the last cold fronts came and went in early April, spring fishing heated up. Trout action remained strong, highlighted by some exceptionally large fish. More large trout were caught this past month than in any April in recent memory. As whitebait showed up, the trout clearly showed a preference for this type of meal. Baits "bobbered" about a foot off the bottom seemed to trigger the most strikes. Many of these fish came off of the spoil island areas however some of the oversized gators hit baits being floated for redfish on the flats. Look for the remaining large trout to move to the beaches in May before their final farewell to their summer haunts. Un-weighted whitebait will probably be the best way to catch these May fish. Schooling redfish are clearly "back in the neighborhood" now. Numerous trips produced in excess of 15 redfish. Almost all of these highly productive days were when the big tides pushed way up into the bushes. Schooling reds like to get up in the mangroves in search of one of their favorite dinners...crabs. Also, there is also an argument to be made that these fish like moving way in to stay out of reach of their primary predator, the dolphin. Whatever the reason, finding a group of reds back in the sticks during a high tide is redfishing at its best. Whitebait is a preferred bait for this type of fishing however once fish are located, a variety of baits can trigger strikes. Having excess whitebait does allow you to chum areas heavily however and may help pull these fish out of the mangroves and get them in a frenzied, eating mood. Bobbered, free lined and split shotted baits can all work in this scenario. Finding these schooling reds is hard work in that it just takes time on the water to locate them. If you find a group of fish though, chances are, they'll be in that same area for at least a few days. With water temperatures now locked in the mid to high seventies, snook are a good possibility on every charter. Moving tides are always better, and outgoing is best. Fish are now everywhere from the mangrove shorelines to the beaches. As a general rule, beach fish tend to eat a little more aggressively so it's always nice to find a group of fish on the "outside". Although snook will eat cut baits on occasion (yes, it's true), there's no doubt that whitebait, both pilchards and threadfins, are the most available bait of choice. Grunts and ladyfish are great bonus baits if you can find them. For the most part, all of these baits should be fished with no weight on a hook that is properly sized to the bait. In particularly deep areas or areas with strong tidal flow, split shots may be appropriate. For those of you still looking for your first larger snook, rest assured that when you hook it, you'll know. Your drag is guaranteed to scream and, with a little luck, you'll see some "air born activity" as well. Snook are just plain exciting to catch. For those of you interested in fishing near shore waters, reports are that both of our migratory mackerel...the spanish and the king...are back. For a little excitement, head out with a bait well full of whitebait and a medium action spinning rod, find some hard bottom and chum aggressively. Enjoy some potential fast action from the spanish mackerel and challenge yourself not to get spooled should a healthy kingfish decide to eat one of your offerings. Fishing is hot right now so look for a good tide day and get out there and pull on some fish.

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