South Shore Tampa Bay Report By: Capt. Christopher Taylor

February was a total knockout! The redfish bite was an inferno that stretched from the Howard Franklin Bridge to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and even further south around Fort Desoto State Park. When it comes to fishing these big schools of redfish, it’s not a matter of if they are there, it’s where they are. Tides, wind and water clarity are some of the things to bring into perspective when in search of these fish.

Unexpected cold fronts that bring a whirlwind of fury to most guides in the Tampa Bay area will set the most experienced angler back to the basics of fishing. However, if the conditions are right there are plenty of fish to wrangle up. March is well known for its cooperative weather and great fishing. The redfish bite is predicted to remain steady through the month of March.

When it comes to non-stop drag-screaming rod-bending action that leaves you with a sore forearm, snook is the second fish for the month. The snook spawn historically starts before or after the full moon in May and peaks in the month of June. March and April are the two months when the stove heats the pot as the water temperatures hit the mid-70’s. Go to spots for snook are all major passes and bodies of water surrounded by sandbars or some type of structure that has the potential for holding bait-fish during tidal changes.

The most common fish to catch are the smaller males. However, there are plenty of big female snook to be hooked. March is definitely a great month for all day snook fishing due to the forefront of their spawn and water temperatures reaching the mid 70’s. This allows for great feeding activity as they will become lethargic as water temperatures rise closer to mid-summer.

Choice baits for redfish this month are pinfish, live or cut. For snook, I recommend live scaled sardines or dead scaled sardines cut in half. You will have better success catching bait with a Humpback brand cast net. Free-lining baits, or with the necessary split shot for stronger tidal flow, is the preferred presentation for both targeted species.