Knowledge can be the best key to catching more fish. There are numerous sources like books, videos and magazines (like the Coastal Angler). I have found one that is free and has a ton of information on all aspects of fishing. Its from Dave Rieumont from Tarpon Fishing Outfitters, located on US 19 in Tarpon Springs. I met Dave years ago when he was at Tampa Fishing Outfitters. Dave took the time to go outside and demonstrate the correct way to throw a cast net. At the time I thought this guy didn’t know me from Adam and was nice enough to spend his time doing this. Over the years I’ve gotten to know him better through his store and seeing him doing seminars. When you talk to him, you will get a lot of information. He also has a great podcast. Search for the “Patriotic Angler” and you will find more information on fish, tackle and techniques than you can imagine. Dave does in-depth research on each subject, and I guarantee you will come away with a few things that will help on the water and you will thank me for this tip. If you go by his store, tell him Fishdaddy said hi.
Offshore we still have some cold water. As we wait for it to warm, there are still some fish to be caught. In our area of Hernando Beach, the shallow grass can run out 10 miles, because you will only be in 10 to 12 feet of water. With this in mind, trout, mangrove snapper, sea bass, mackerel, grouper and sheepshead can all be targeted this time of year, most with the same type of baits. Shrimp is the go-to bait. You can free line them with or without a strike indicator and use a light pinch weight or, on the bottom, use a weight or a jig. Use a small long shank J hook or a 1/0 circle hook. Shrimp are pretty abundant (unless we get a hard freeze) and are easier for the fish to digest with their cold metabolism. The fish will be more likely to attack this bait. Artificial baits like 3 to 4-inch plastic jerk baits or 3-inch Gulp shrimp bounced along the bottom will also produce strikes. Another tip is to try drift fishing. Shut the motor off, raise the motor and bounce the bait along the bottom as you drift. With this technique, there is no reeling–just use the drift and you can cover a lot more ground.
Get out there on the water and make some memories with friends and family!