Hernando County By: Capt. Gary Strickland

The change has started. Tides are starting to become stronger, and we are beginning to get away from the negative tides. Our water temp will remain on a slow rise, really triggering our in-shore fish to turn on. Many fish will be dumping out of the creeks and backwaters, where they have been sheltering through the colder months. They are ready to come back out and they are hungry.

You can expect the snook bite to pick up this month, but they will still be a bit picky. Live shrimp or pinfish should do the trick. Sea trout will be hanging in 3 to 4 feet of water on grassy, patchy bottom. This is a great month to throw soft plastics for trout. I usually use a 1/8-ounce white jig head with a 5-inch bait. I tend to change my bait colors quite frequently, depending on many factors.

Some of the more important factors would be water clarity, weather conditions and the time of day. Typically, if it’s bright and sunny, I will use more natural colors. If it’s a bit cloudy, I will use darker colors. Redfish will be schooling up on rocky bottom along the mangrove lines.

Redfish will eat just about anything you throw at them. Finding them and not spooking them is the hard part. If you like lures, early morning top water can be very exciting with redfish, or any weedless soft plastic. Try to match your color to the natural bait in the area. Here along the nature coast, gold and black, root-beer and white colors are hard to beat. If you enjoy just fishing with bait, cut mullet, shrimp or live pinfish are some of the redfish’s favorite meals.

The weather is beautiful this time of year and the fish are biting. Hopefully everyone gets out and catches some fish. Tight lines everyone.