Springish weather has sparked a redfish revival of sorts around the Suncoast. Anglers from the Homosassa River south to the Manatee are reporting an upswing in action. The recent warming has concentrated the fish on shallow grass flats, potholes, swash channels and around the deeper edges of mangrove islands.
"We're back to the 20 fish a day on fly kind of stuff," said Capt. Paul Hawkins, who has been finding small schools of reds up to 12 pounds around Weedon Island and Fort De Soto. "It's warmed enough to where they want to eat. They're way aggressive right now."
Hawkins says the reds are chewing both topwater plugs and gold spoons as well as his hand-tied flies.
He added that he's been getting into schools of mackerel throwing jigs around the Gandy Bridge area.
A little farther to the north, Capt. Tom Taminini has been finding decent numbers of reds throwing Gold Limpets around the grass flats skirting Caladesi and Honeymoon Islands. He's also picking the occasional "gator" trout up to 24 inches working the same areas.
Sheepshead are feeding heavily around the bridges and piers.
Wreck fishing has been hot and a livewell full of of pinfish is the quick ticket to bent rods. Amberjack up to 30 pounds are scarfing up live pinfish and a variety of jigs over wrecks in 80 to 130 feet of water. The wrecks will also yield an occasional gag grouper, red and mangrove snapper, or barracuda.
Many of the wrecks are listed on nautical charts that can be purchased at marine-related stores along the Suncoast, but the best ones are often the "private" wrecks unknown to most.
Gag grouper action on the ledges has been slower. Most captains say the fish just never arrived in the numbers of past years. The most consistent catches are coming from well offshore, 80 feet or deeper. The shallow ledges are giving up a few fish, but most have been undersize.
Schools of bonita are being sighted striking the surface in 20 to 80 feet of water.
_ JON WEST