What's hot: March is usually when spring fishing kicks off on the west coast. Speckled trout are at their peak in size, and often the biggest of the year are caught just off the spoils along the Intracoastal Waterway. Sightcasting to larger 4-pound yellowmouths in skinny water allows anglers to throw shallow running artificials. As whitebait begin to arrive back on the flats, snook will soon follow. Most have started to stage up in transition areas as a caution against late cold fronts. Bayous and river mouths are great places to work; linesiders will have access to deeper water.
What else: Schools of oversized redfish are forming and will number in the hundreds on good moon phases with peak high water. The shallow flats of Caladesi Island up to Green Key in Pasco County are starting to get good numbers. Though the larger, oversized fish will show up only on new- and full-moon tides, many slot fish are schooling up and pushing up to oyster bars and creeks on high water. The key to approaching these fish is pushing in a shallow drafting boat quietly. A push pole is great. If you don't have one, a trolling motor at low speeds will do. The idea is to not make a lot of commotion as you enter the flat. Sending a wake to the area will only push out the fish.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater, and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 and at [email protected]