The large amount of bait in the Tampa Bay area has turned on the fishing. There have been good reports of trout being caught on the grass flats around Coquina Key and Fort De Soto Park. Use small whitebait or live shrimp on a popping cork to catch them.
Tarpon fishing has been outstanding north of the Gandy Bridge in upper Tampa Bay. Pods of 10-25 fish can be seen free-jumping and rolling. Most of the fish are small, weighing 60-100 pounds, but are tough to handle even on heavy tackle.
Schools of Spanish mackerel can be found throughout the bay. To help find them, look for birds feeding on the small pieces of bait left in the water after the mackerel crash through the pods. Cast to them using small spoons of jigs.
Bluefish are being caught near the Misener Bridge and in Bunces Pass. Most of the fish weigh about 2 pounds. Free-lining live whitebait seems to be working best.
The key to the tremendous upswing in fishing is the bait. All these fish are feeding on whitebait and greenbacks that have congregated in Tampa Bay. Find the bait and you'll find fish.
Fishing offshore has slowed. Try chumming, as it can draw the fish to your boat and sometimes will start them feeding after the bite has turned off.
Because of the growing demands of my business, and the wish to spend more time with my family, it is with regret I announce that this will be my last article for the Captain's Corner. I wish the other captains and all the loyal readers the very best. I hope to see you on the water.
_ Todd Wood charters the Woodcraft out of Gulfport.