Spring has sprung, and with each passing front the season extends a couple of more days and the fishing continues to be rock solid. Big trout are beginning to push into the middle bay. Recent trips have produced fish in the 20- to 26-inch range in shallow water with salt-and-pepper bottom. Fish the transitions (the edges of the dark and light) for best results. Large whitebait has been key in producing the large fish. I usually start with one bait free-lined and the other under a popping cork. The trick to the cork is to pop it hard enough that it sounds like a strike, let it drift and reel in while leaving a little slack in the line to help for a better pop. Redfish are also foraging around the local flats in search of an easy meal. Take a cue from where the mullet are sitting and fish the mullet, not the shoreline. On lower tide stages, there is little water under the trees, and the fish in that skinny water are ultra spooky. The redfish mixed with the mullet on the flats are in a little deeper water and more willing to feed. Long casts are must, and a cut piece of ladyfish is hard to turn down. Snook are beginning to stage for the spawn. Between the fronts, the fish seem to be pushing closer to their spawning grounds. Recently, there have been a lot of fish that are just under slot. These fish will be solid slot fish by next fall, so please harvest responsibly.
Tim Whitfield can be reached at (813) 714-0889 or [email protected]