Tampa Bay Fishing report By: Capt. Woody Gore

If February was any indication, our snook bite should be good in March. As the water temperatures begin rising, snook should continue moving into their summertime patterns and start chasing a few sardines. Greenbacks should begin showing up and live bait anglers will be getting out that dreaded cast net. Look for snook to pattern along outside edges and points along mangrove islands and shoreline–especially where tidal flows move bait. Our miles of grass flats with sandy potholes also offer excellent ambush locations. Live bait, suspending lures, topwater’s and soft plastics always produce.

There’s nothing more exciting to a redfish angler than easing onto a shallow grass flat and seeing tailing fish. The first thing is to identify which direction they are feeding and approach quietly from the other. Now comes the tricky part. Using a perfectly placed cast, try picking off the outside fish. Never cast directly into the school.

I’m mentioning mullet schools again, because it bares repeating. When trying to locate feeding redfish, remember they follow schooling mullet eating the baits they stir up. So, I guess it stands to reason that fishing mullet schools usually produces reds. Some anglers use the dead stick method with cut ladyfish, mullet or chunks of crabs. Others still prefer artificial lures or live bait. Whatever you use, just remember schooling mullet on a grass flat.

What does March, incoming tides, outgoing tides, fifty-cent size pinfish, shrimp, small sardines, popping corks, grass flats and broken bottom equal?  They equal good catches of spotted sea trout. Also, I cannot overemphasize the excitement of using topwater lures on calm early morning trout grass flats. Trout love MirrOLure Top Dog Jr. and MirrOMullet. Twitch or “walk-the-dog.” Pause the lure momentarily after each series. The anticipation is un-nerving.

Sheepshead, snapper and cobia are showing up almost everywhere–especially around docks and canals. These tough, toothy, boney mouths mean aggressive hook sets. Try fishing for these great fighters around markers, bridge fenders, docks, seawalls, rock piles, oyster bars or practically any type of structure. I like shrimp for cobia. Check markers and cans holding bait, and be ready to toss something in the path of a circling cobia. Not picky about food, cobia will readily take large shrimp, small crabs, and pinfish. Or, toss them an artificial jerk bait or plastic eel.