Daylight Saving has begun, and on March 15th, we had equal daylight and dark hours. As we get progressively into summer, the longer daylight hours will continue to heat area waters, always changing where fish will feel comfortable. But for the present, fish of all kinds are loving what we have going on here in lower Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, Terra Ceia Bay, and surrounding bay and Gulf waters.
Top targeted fish this week were Spotted Sea Trout. Trout are very plentiful and some of the largest Speckled Trout of the year will likely be caught over the next couple of months. The brisk-moving water around the last full moon made for some great action. Morning low tides were awesome for Redfish, but the incoming afternoon tide was the Trout tide here. Reds hammered the quarter-ounce Eppinger Rex Spoon. Late in the day after the tide turned to go out, the period a few hours into that outgoing turned on the Trout bite again, along with a few Snook.
Pompano were reported around the area of lower Tampa Bay and over to Boca Ciega Bay. Fort Desoto, Bunces Pass, Blind Pass, and Pass-A-Grille are known Pompano hot spots. Shell Key near Pass-A-Grille has also produced some nice fish on Doc’s Goofy Jigs and an assortment of small hair jigs with short shank hooks. CAL Pinch Weights from DOA Lures crimped on a bare hook will work for the pomps too. Orange seems to be the hot color for them in the Pinch Weight. Also look at the shallow bar that runs along the Bulkhead at the mouth of the Manatee River for some Pompano.
Big Trout baits… well, Paul Brown Originals, MirrOlure TTR slow-sinking lures; CAL 5.5 Jerk Baits rigged on either a worm hook or a 5/0 Owner circle hook rigged in the tip of the nose of the bait; 5M MirrOlures; MirrOlure Top Dogs; and DOA Deadly Combos all are producing good action with big fish. For sheer numbers of Trout, if you can find the original Love’s Lures Tandems, they are killer! If not, the new DOA’s Deadly Tandem is beginning to show up in stores and will work too.
Spanish Mackerel up to 22-inches are showing near the Skyway Bridge, and Clark Spoon Squids and Gotcha Plugs are producing fair numbers of these and smaller fish from 14-to 16-inches in length. Make sure you have plenty of ice if you’re keeping Spanish because they spoil quickly in the heat. For best food quality, bleed the fish out and put it on ice right away.
Fish are fired up, and big things are swimming here now. Book your trips in advance for best tide dates. ‘Til then… I’ll catch ya later!
Capt. Ray Markham specializes in light tackle backcountry, inshore, and nearshore fishing charters using artificial lures with spin, plug, and fly tackle and runs the Flat Back II, a custom 1820 Action Craft Flatsmaster SE Hybrid powered by Yamaha out of Terra Ceia. He can be reached for charter at (941) 228-3474 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ray.Markham@gmail.com.