May is here, and spring is just about gone, and with summer just around the corner, water temperatures are about to skyrocket. Water temperatures have been running just a tad below normal most of this year. In late April, my water surface temperature gauge on the boat was hitting 72 degrees on a regular basis, and for that reason, I have been working deeper waters and sun-exposed mangrove shorelines, much as I would towards the middle of March. I am looking for a little warmer water where I think the fish would be a bit more comfortable.
The Snook bite has been very good most of this spring, and as we move later into the month of May, I would suspect that we will see a little downturn in catch reports. If you catch a snook, please be extra careful with your handling procedures. We still need a good spawning season to help repopulate the species after the devastating Red tide outbreak of 2019. Please remember that snook season remains closed in the Southwest Florida region.
Big Trout will be up on the grass flats, and the best time to target will be early morning when the water tends to be a little cooler. I have been doing very well catching trout on the grass beds in 2 feet of water early and then moving to deeper grass as the sun gets higher in the sky. I have noticed that the fish I am catching in the deeper waters tend to be either short of the slot size or just over the 15-inch slot size. I am catching my bigger trout early in the shallower water. The bigger trout tend to be loners, and I would guess that they are moving inshore to some of the deeper potholes later in the day.
The Spanish mackerel run in Tampa Bay this year has been outstanding. We Have been catching mackerel consistently all spring. I do hear that the offshore mackerel bite has been very good. I rig for Mackerel using scaled sardines as my bait of choice and free line my baits with an extra-long # 1/0 J-hook using 50-pound test Fluorocarbon leader.
The Southshore flats have been holding some Redfish, but still, they have not schooled up. The redfish we are catching have been on the lower end of the slot range averaging around the 22-inch range. I have been working the mangrove shoreline and tossing live pilchards into the shaded areas. We catch one or two and move on to the next spot. This would be an excellent time to work artificial along the mangrove tree lines. I like throwing a gold spoon under the mangroves as I move along the tree-lined shore quietly with my trolling motor or kayak.
This time of year, I like to mix it up by targeting Redfish and Trout on the flats and Spanish mackerel in open bay waters. White bait will be my bait (scaled sardines) of choice.
Capt. Danny Guarino is a lifetime resident of Tampa and a semi-retired fishing guide.
He can be reached at (813) 956-2010 or
Be safe out there
Capt Danny Guarino
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