Tampa Bay Fishing Report By: Capt. Woody Gore

A falling tide and a livewell full of whitebait to chum with will draw the snook out of the mangroves, but don’t be surprised if you drag a redfish or gator trout out with them. Always be prepared, especially if you’re looking to snag that snook of a lifetime because there’s a good chance she might be the next one that grabs your bait.

If you’re in for something non-natural, tie on an artificial lure like the world famous MirrOlure Top Dog Jr. and rattle it across a broken bottom grass flat using some walk-the-dog action. The anticipation of a snook or redfish strike is almost more than an angler can stand. When that long expected strike happens, you’ll think your heart is going to stop.

Remember this time of year that the big snook are females and probably full of eggs so handle them with care. Snap a quick photo, get her back in the water and revive her slowly; or better yet don’t even lift them out of the water.

For those who love drags screaming, hit and run action fishing, this is the time of year. If Spanish mackerel and kingfish are your thing, then get excited because fishing is sure to pick up as water temps come down. Anchor up and chum, or slow troll live baits or spoons along the beaches and hard-bottoms close to shore, for fast, hard hitting action. There are some resident fish, but most being pelagic giants are following the baitfish schools north in spring and south in fall.

There are also some big Spanish mackerel around Tampa Bay right now and these fish are huge, when getting to this size they have tremendous speed, power and endurance. Mackerel are also good table fare, for those you keep, bleed them and get them on ice quickly. I put mine in a large heavy duty trash bag before putting them in my cooler; it keeps the cooler clean. At the cleaning table, fillet them and remove the skin and bloodline for frying or fillet them and leave the skin on for smoking.

Redfish are everywhere in the bay, but if you’re having difficulty finding them simply locate and fish in the middle of a school of large mullet. The redfish bite has been a good on live, dead and artificial baits. Every part of Tampa Bay seems to hold a few schools. Daiichi Bleeding Bait wide gap saltwater circle hooks seem to be great for keeping these fish buttoned. The baits of choice have been threadfin herring, broken large greenbacks, cut pinfish, cut ladyfish and cut mullet.

The big gator trout have started showing up on Tampa Bay grass flats. Look for a good broken bottom grass flat with plenty of potholes. Start by working the edges of as many potholes as possible; you’re sure to find some worthwhile fish.

Trout are a good species to work your artificial skills on, because they are not too picky when it comes to food. One good artificial is a Gulp or DOA shrimp under a popping cork; hook the shrimp just like you would a live one, through the carapace on the head then cast out and pop the cork. The popping sound draws the trout’s attention and you are sure to hook up.

Trout no longer have a closed season, so only take what you plan on eating for supper because they do not freeze well. Remember they are a fragile species and have a protective slime coat, so please use a de-hooker and not your hands or a net for the ones you release.

Give Me a Call & Let’s Go Fishing – 813-477-3814 Captain Woody Gore is the area’s top outdoor fishing guide. Guiding and fishing the west central Florida areas for over fifty years; he offers world class fishing adventures and a lifetime of memories.

Multi-boat Group Charters: With years of organizational experience and access to the areas most experienced captains, Captain Woody can arrange and coordinate any outing or tournament. Just tell him what you need and it’s done.  WWW.CAPTAINWOODYGORE.COM, Email: [email protected] or give him a call at 813-477-3814.