What's hot: The best time of year to fish in the Tampa Bay area has arrived with a vengeance. The weather finally broke from the winter pattern and has sent inshore species into a feeding frenzy. Water temperatures are in the low 70s, ideal for snook to start feeding before their annual spawn. Monster schools of redfish have invaded the flats around Tierra Verde. I counted five schools that I could target the last week on the major high tides from the full moon. Trout has become a much easier target and can be caught in the same area where redfish are lurking.
Bait: Look for the bay area bridges to start loading up with threadfin herring and scaled sardines. I like to throw my 12-foot cast net up current-side of the bridge and let it sink to the bottom into the shadow line. Usually one throw is all it takes to fill the well. The trick is not to overstuff the well, causing the bait to die.
Cobia: Warmer water triggers certain fish to travel up and down the west coast. One of my favorites is the cobia, often mistaken for a shark. I cruise certain flats this time of year looking for large stingrays and spotted eagle rays. Cobia will follow right on top or just behind looking for easy prey that the rays spook off the bottom from swimming. Cobia will eat almost anything thrown at them.
Rob Gorta charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at captainrobgorta.com or (727) 647-7606