Spring fling. We continue to be blessed with great weather. At this pace we may be in for an early spring and great fishing. Fish seem to already be transitioning into their spring habitats. Bait has shown back up in Tampa Bay, but in deeper water.
Reef relief. With extremely low winter tides that can limit where you fish, you may want to target some inshore reefs and rock piles. Tampa Bay is loaded with them. You can visit myfwc.com and it has a list of artificial reefs in Tampa Bay and surrounding areas. Common catches on these reefs this time of year are sheepshead and silver trout.
Making the catch. Catching 5- to 10-pound sheepshead this time of year is not uncommon. Tearing a live shrimp and just using half has produced the best results. A 15-pound leader with a No. 1 or No. 2 hook with a small split shot should do the job. Sheepshead are notorious for stealing your bait. Just make sure to keep your line tight and as soon as you feel that first bump, set the hook. The silver trout are very abundant and catching a hundred fish is not hard to do.
Easy does it. Snook are pushing out of their winter holes and onto the flats and mangrove shorelines early. With white bait showing back up in the bay, it has made catching some trophy fish pretty easy. Presenting a nice bait in front of snook this time of year is almost hard for them to resist given that they haven't seen it for a couple of months. Remember to still take caution when handling these big breeder fish. Take a quick picture and release them as quickly as possible.
Mike Gore charters out of Tampa Bay. Call him at (813) 390-6600 or visit tampacharters.com.