As March rolls in, we begin to see our prized Snook population move out of the rivers and into their springtime spots. With the cool weather of January and February, the Snook migration is just about on schedule. Catch reports of Snook have been encouraging this past fall and are at or above pre red tide levels. This is a good indication that Snook is continuing their rebound after the 2018-2019 red tide fish kill that hit the West Coast of Florida. Snook are great fun to catch, but as of now, the season is closed, so you will have to release them back to the water.
Red Fish and trout will be up on the grass flats. Look for grass beds that are 2 to 3 feet deep. The Southshore flats are holding several redfish schools that have at least 30 fish per school. Be quiet; if we keep the boat traffic off the grass and on the outside of the sandbar that lines the shore eastern side of Tampa Bay, we will see the schools. Running a boat on a plane on top of a school of redfish is a sure way to drive the fish out of the area. Look for the reds in the schools of mullet that roam the area. Shrimp or scaled sardines will be the bait of choice for these springtime favorites.
We should start to see a few cobia along the Southshore. Look for cobia moving near the many range markers that are placed throughout Tampa Bay. Try using pinfish for bait and use a little heavier tackle. Some of these fish will be in the 30-to-60-pound range.
Sheepshead fishing has been very good this past month, and I expect that trend to continue through March. I use small live shrimp for bait using a # 2 hook. I will set up in an area that has structure and just drop the bait over the side. I like doing this in deeper areas. Just drop your anchor on the outside edge and up tide from the structure. It is very important to be patient and do expect to use a lot of shrimp.
Whitebait (scaled sardines) have been scarce most of the winter, but I expect to see them migrate to the grass flats as the water temperatures begin to rise. Look for the big bait pods to arrive later in March along with the schools of Mackerel. In fact, a few catch reports of Spanish mackerel being caught at the mouth of Tampa Bay have been popping up since mid-February.
This time of year, I like to mix it up by targeting Snook in the passes, redfish and trout on the flats, and a few mackerel out in open water. Whitebait will be my bait of choice.
Be safe out there!
Capt. Danny Guarino a lifelong resident of the Tampa area and a semi-retired fishing guide on Tampa Bay. If you are looking to hire a Charter Captain in the Tampa Bay area, give Capt. Danny a call. He has an extensive network of long-term proven Tampa Bay Fishing Guides that are all insured and licensed. Let Capt. Danny take the guesswork out of finding a fishing guide.
Capt. Danny Guarino – D.R. Guarino Charters
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