Tampa Bay Fishing Report By: Capt. Woody Gore   

For you folks, that haven’t realized it yet, we have four seasons in Florida. Almost Summer, Summer, still Summer and Christmas. Thank goodness it’s almost Summer and fishing is looking great for April. It’s always nice not having to throw the cast net, unless you are a glutton for punishment.

We’ve had an excellent last three months catching nice spotted sea trout using shrimp and artificial lures. We had some great days with trout measuring in the low to mid-20-inch range along with a few redfish, bluefish, some pompano and plenty of sheepsheads. As a reminder, the FWC has extended the closure for snook, redfish and trout. These species are catch and release only until March 30, 2021.

Look for snook around docks, bridges, mangrove islands, oyster bars or any other ambush spot. You often hear me talk about topwater action. Well this is a great month to get an excellent topwater lure punched out of the water by a big snook. It’s also a great time to fish docks and bridge fenders at night. Any good lipped lure tossed at a lighted structure and ripped through the light line will produce everything from snook, redfish, trout or the occasional grouper.

Expect the trout fishing on any decent grass flat to be healthy through the rest of the Summer. Small jig heads with plastic tails or shrimp free-lined or under a popping cork will do the trick. And, don’t be surprised if you pull up a nice pompano off some the edges of the sandy flats.

Redfish are a staple of the Tampa bay area. You can expect to catch plenty from now right through the Summer. Live baits, dead baits or artificial lures all work well. Target areas along the flats, ledges of grass breaks, mangrove edges and oyster bars.

Find one of the many rock piles or artificial reefs in the Tampa Bay area, and you’ll have plenty of fun catching sheepshead, snapper, grunts and sea bass. These species are in the bay and easy to find. While sheeps take more time to clean, they are excellent table fare. When fishing for sheepsheads and others, try using natural baits like fiddler crabs, shrimp, oysters, mussels and clams.

If you are looking for some great light-tackle action, look no further than Tampa Bay. It usually gets full of threadfins, and that means mackerel, bluefish, jacks and ladyfish. Drift the bait schools or anchor around markers tossing out white baits or threadfins, and hang on. Shiny silver spoons or fast action artificial lures also do the trick. If you’ve never tried smoked mackerel right out of the smoker, you’re in for a real treat. They are much better than smoked mullet and make tremendous fish spread.  All you need is some garlic salt and the new non-stick aluminum foil. Smoke the fillets on medium heat until they flake–remove and they’re ready to eat. Eat them while they are warm, and the rest you can pull the meat away from the skin, missing the bloodline, and make a fish spread. Or you can vacuum seal the meat and put it in the freezer for later. Don’t forget those delicious bluefish fillets with the bloodline removed. Cut those bad boys into fingers and fry them up in your favorite batter. They go great with hush puppies and coleslaw. Or make up a batch of your favorite taco sides and shut the door.

Give me a call and let’s go fishing — 813-477-3814.