Tampa Fishing Reports

March 2008 Fishing Report

As February progressed, sea trout fishing got better and better. The second to last week of the month offered up strong tides and consistent, warm weather. Trout responded well to bobbered shrimp and limits of quality fish were common. Most were in the 17 to 22 inch category. Although the action was fairly steady, fish seemed to bite a little better on the moving tides. Also, fish appeared a bit more scattered this year than in years past, likely the result of the intensifying fishing pressure off of the northern Pinellas Coast. It's no secret that our large sea trout fishery is fantastic, but it seems to draw more anglers from neighboring counties every year. March should offer continued good trout fishing, as long as the water's not muddied up or a front hasn't recently moved through. As is typical for February, the redfish started appearing in greater numbers. Numerous charters yielded double digit redfish counts with many keeper fish and an occasional heavyweight over the slot limit. Most of the larger fish came from patiently working historically good redfish flats on the higher tides but several residential docks surrendered reds in the twenty four to twenty five inch category. Shrimp was clearly the preferred bait this last month but various cut baits produced well on some days, as did pinfish. If last year is any indication, March should offer excellent action on larger redfish. To hone your redfish catching skills, look for a shallow flat or bay that doesn't get much boat traffic. It's a good assumption that a school of reds is roaming the area...somewhere. Set aside a morning, with an incoming tide, to go study this flat. Look for mullet, bait activity and long legged shore birds feeding. If your flat has all of these things, chances are you're in the right neighborhood. Slowly and quietly work your way across this flat, casting gold spoons, plugs or a lightly weighted "Gulp" jerk shad. When you hook a fish, anchor as more reds may be out in front of you. Learning where the fish are on a given flat takes time and effort, which is why most weekend anglers don't consistently catch fish on the flats. Should you unlock the secret of a given flat however, you may have little competition for the fish, catch fish off of this flat year after year, and catch bigger redfish than you ever have. If catching big redfish isn't enough incentive to get out on the water, we could be just weeks away from the first snook bite. Small schools of whitebait have been sighted locally over the last week and water temperatures have been hovering just shy of seventy degrees...the magic mark for snook. A late February cold front chilled water temps one last time but with a few weeks of warm weather in March, snook fishing could begin. Being among the first anglers to catch whitebait will put you in a great position to tie into one of these prized game fish. So chase down some whitebait and start searching canals, creek mouths, inshore points, as well as warm, dark bottomed, mangrove shorelines as the snook should be on the prowl. With the next full moon approaching, we should have excellent tides to fish from about the 7th through the 13th of March. So get out on the water. Spring fishing is about to heat up. Good luck and good fishing.

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