Warmer conditions and increased tidal height have allowed many inshore species to move into a springtime pattern of working mangroves and feeding among the schools of mullet. Larger speckled trout have shown up in good numbers from Clearwater to the Anclote area.
The spoil islands along the Intracoastal Waterway have always been a staple of the spring trout bite. Redfish schools are working the edges of drop-offs on low water and pushing up toward the main shore to feed around the oyster bars. Many of these shell banks are holding larger redfish around 10-plus pounds gorging on the multitude of pinfish that have shown up in the past week.
While drift-fishing grass flats, watch for black drum in the 40-pound class that are feeding around crab traps and can be spotted by muddy water they create.
Finding mullet schools can be a productive way to locate fish on these last few extreme negative tides of wintertime. The trout and redfish like to work among the mudding mullet to find easy meals. Darker pumpkin quarter-ounce bucktails work great to cover the water column and imitate small crabs or shrimp while being worked back to the boat.
The best bite has been the bigger redfish that are moving in from the gulf to feed. The schools have good numbers, and on peak tides, 100 or more can be seen working a stretch of shoreline.
Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at jim@ captainhud.com or (727) 439-9017.