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Tampa Fishing Reports

2016 May Tampa Fishing Report

With the arrival of May, bait is easy, snook and trout are on the beaches, and red-fishing is strong.  Most Tampa Fishing Guides would readily agree with this statement. Over time though, it is clear that nothing is for sure and completely dependable in the world of fishing. Yes, the red-fishing has been good on the stronger tides, with most fish now ranging from 22 - 25 inches plus an occasional bruiser. Pitching mangrove shorelines has been most effective using white bait, small pinfish and cut pinfish. Accurate casting is a key to this approach as getting baits in tight to cover is important. As summer's heat bears down, this will only become more critical. The real secret to catching decent numbers of fish right now is to continue to cover ground until rods start to bend. These fish will eat quickly when found.


Simply put, bait is not easy right now.  Normally, most captains leave 2 hours in advance of a Tampa Fishing Charter to insure that enough bait is secured.  On "good days", the process might take 45 minutes. Over the last month, every bit of those two hours has been required to get enough bait, and on many days, it's not the 200 - 400 white baits desired, but 100 - 150 baits. It almost makes fishing feel like work...but not quite. One of the popular theories circulating right now is that the red tide that showed up (and is still lingering to our south) has kept large quantities of bait away from our shorelines. Kingfish season near shore was also weak, possibly adding further credence to this theory. On the bright side, bait has seemed to get a little better over the last few days so hopefully this trend will continue.


It appears that snook have finally made a stronger move to the beaches. Last year, Tampa Fishing for beach snook heated up in early to mid April, so the move this year seems late. Backcountry spots are still holding catchable numbers of fish and still represent logical locations to target. Large whitebait, grunts and small ladyfish are top baits. All good snook fisherman know that patience is required to catch these fish.  Pulling up on a spot, throwing out a bait and hooking a fish is always a pleasant surprise, but it should not be an expectation.  Plan on spending time if you want to catch a quality fish. Also, with the ever increasing population in Pinellas county, getting to a favorite spot is harder than it used to be, especially for the weekend warrior.  Consider doing some time shifting to both have better access to spots and fish to "less disturbed" fish.  Many snook veterans fish very early, very late and on into the night to catch the really big fish. As snook do have a nocturnal side, there is no reason to worry about fish not being active after the sun goes down. 


Large seatrout are showing up sporadically on the beaches , but the full-on invasion has not taken place yet.  May is typically a great month to catch big fish over the sand so the expectation is that this fishing will improve.  Many of these fish are caught by accident while snook fishing as both species tend to reside in the same types of areas at this time.  Large whitebaits intended for a linesider are often the baits that catch the best trout. 


Prime inshore fishing fishing season is upon us for the next few months. Big snook will gather in better and better numbers in preparation for their summer spawn in the passes. Tarpon will roll up and down our beaches and redfish will be a consistent and dependable quarry. Take a day off, get out on the water and enjoy the great fishing opportunities that are available.


Other entertainment opportunities in the Tampa area include sampling the vast array of microbrewed beers. Tampa is rapidly becoming recognized as a top city for microbreweries. A great outdoor activity would be visiting the beautiful, white sand beaches or walking the trails on Honeymoon Island.  A wide variety of birds, including bald eagles, ospreys, herons, egrets, and roseate spoonbills are among the possibilities.  The hiking trails are flat and easy to navigate, making it great for a family outing.

Good luck and good fishing.