Sunday, February 25, 2018
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Best time for spring fishing later this year

When asked in the past when is the best time to fish in the spring, I would answer quickly: the entire month of April and the first two weeks of May. This was predicated on water temperatures being in the mid to high 70s, providing the optimum conditions for baitfish to arrive along with their predators, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, bonita and barracuda. This year I have to change my response to the last two weeks of April and the entire month of May. Water temperatures dropped into the 50s a few months ago and have slowly risen, up to 74 degrees offshore on Friday. Spanish sardines, scad, blue runners and threadfins can be found on the artificial reefs and high-profile wrecks and ledges. Spanish mackerel we've been catching have been above-average size, often mixed in with schools of kingfish in the 6- to 12-pound class, which now are more abundant than mackerel. Slow trolling sabiki-caught bait in the area targeted has produced multiple hookups and drag-screaming runs when targeting these fish on 10- to 12-pound spinning tackle. Bottom fishing has come into its own, with red grouper, white grunts, Lane and mangrove snapper being the targets of choice in 60 to 65 feet. Deploy two stinger-rigged flatlines while bottom fishing, one with a live bait such as a Spanish sardine or hardtail and another with a frozen sardine so the entire water column is covered when kingfish, which are attracted to the activity and chum in the water, show up.

Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.

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Captainís Corner: Spring-like conditions lead to improved bite

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Published: 02/23/18
Updated: 02/24/18

Captainís Corner: Cobia moving into bay ahead of schedule

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Published: 02/23/18

Captainís Corner: Rising temperatures fire up the bite

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Published: 02/22/18

Captainís Corner: Warming waters, better visibility are good signs

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Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/19/18

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Published: 02/18/18

Captainís Corner: Bait a challenge, but effort will pay off

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Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/17/18

Captainís Corner: Springtime fishing patterns moving in

The first half of February has been hit or miss for inshore fishing. The consistent cold fronts and warmups seem to have the fish confused. The week ahead should be pretty good. The best bite has been midmorning into the afternoon. With temperatures ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/15/18

Captainís Corner: Get an early start when chasing redfish

Redfish schools have started to invade the flats around Pinellas Point. On low tide in the morning, I look for a school on an outer sandbar. These fish are staged on the edge waiting for the tide to come in. Once the water level rises, the fish will ...
Published: 02/13/18

Captainís Corner: Baitfish in the shallows improves fly fishing

Seeing large groups of pelicans diving and catching baitfish in warmer, shallow water is a sure sign spring conditions are approaching. The appearance of quality baitfish will spark a feeding frenzy that should steadily improve flats fishing for fly ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/16/18

Captainís Corner: Action picking up as temperature rises

The wind finally stopped blowing so hard that we couldnít go offshore. Water temperatures were still in the low 50s offshore at the beginning of the week, and this affected fish behavior. Because the water was calm, we ventured out to the 80- to 90-f...
Published: 02/11/18
Updated: 02/12/18