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As water warms, seek out bait schools to find inshore species

What's hot: March is typically one of the best months to fish in Tampa Bay. This year, the cold winter may push the real feeding frenzy back a week. Once the water temperature reaches the mid 60s, it will start some of the best action that anyone can experience in our area. The tide levels start to get higher on the stronger moon phases, which in turn causes large schools of redfish to invade our flats in the Tampa Bay area. Trout will also start to push into shallower water, moving from the deeper grass flats and edges of the sand bars. Snook will start to feed aggressively after the winter, wanting to attack just about anything in sight.

Key to success: I have said this the whole winter; I have been successful in my charters because I have been able to keep up on the movement of the baitfish. Filling the baitwell with scaled sardines and threadfin herring has proved to be most effective. The same will be even more important this month. In years past, redfish have fed aggressively on live bait early in the spring. I talk with friends that I trust, find schools of fish, whether it is snook, trout or redfish, and we target them with live wells full of herring and sardines. Once the pressure gets to be too much on these schools of fish, they will settle down and become hard to catch on live bait.

Chumming: Live bait chumming is one of the most effective ways to get fish into a feeding frenzy. Care has to be taken when starting to chum. I like to throw a few baits out to see what mood the fish are in. If I notice fish start to feed on the live chum, then I start to throw more baits in the water. If I do not see any action, I stop chumming to prevent seagulls and terns from diving in the water and spooking the fish.

Rob Gorta charters out of St. Petersburg. Call him at (727) 647-7606 or visit

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As water warms, seek out bait schools to find inshore species 03/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 5, 2009 3:30am]
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