The local water temperature has finally hit my magic number, 65. At the beginning of each month I consult my fishing log, an old school notebook, that has records of my previous trips. In the short recap of my trip, I always include water temperature. Lethargic winter snook on our west coast that survived our relatively mild winter can now leave those haunts and chase a fly. They are leaving deeper water, like residential canals, marinas, channels, bridges and estuaries. They first stage close to these places so they can return if colder weather comes back. Target edges of flats, sand holes, points, drop-offs, structure in deep water and sea walls. They are there not only to get warm, but to feed on baitfish. Having been exposed to small glass minnows all winter a larger offering is hard to refuse. Baitfish will vary in size and color in some areas so carefully look into the water to see what is available. Match the hatch and make your presentation a similar color and size. If snook are near the bottom in 4 or 5 feet of water, your offering near the surface will be refused. A slow deep retrieve is preferred. Sink tip lines with a fluorocarbon 30-pound tippet and weighted flies will produce. This same tactic will produce reds and large trout. If you get cut off a few times, Spanish mackerel will be the culprit so change your tippet to 30-pound hard monofilament.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico runs charters in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com and (727) 504-8649.