What is the best time of year to fish in the Tampa Clearwater Area? Many local fishermen would say May and June because the tarpon and snook fishing is at it's best.  With that said however, spring and fall can be incredibly exciting as a vast variety of species may be caught on one Tampa Fishing Charter. On a recent trip, the day began about three miles off the beach.  Although mangrove snapper were the primary target,  five different species were caught.  These included over a dozen quality mangrove snapper, 2 mackerel, 2 bonita (which both exceeded ten pounds) 6 gag grouper from 18 inches to legal (yes the season is closed) and a crazy three pound blue runner. Had the charter been 6 hours, it is likely that snook, redfish and seatrout could have also been caught.

Great Spring Clearwater Fishing

Should inshore fishing be of most interest, the large seatrout of St Joseph's Sound are still around in abundance and, with whitebait now generally available, fishing can be insanely good. As these fish, like redfish, are still catch and release until June, using a dehooker is a great way to get these fish back in the water quickly and with minimum harm. Excessive handling of these trout (in essence, removing their slime layer) is best avoided. With warming waters and higher daytime tides, redfishing will go from good to great. Schools of redfish will invade the mangrove shorelines from Anclote Key down to Clearwater Beach.  Although finding these schools will take some work, once located, multiple fish can be pulled from one area.  A great bait this time of year, when fishing an open flat, is a split shotted 3 inch pinfish or a chunk of pinfish or ladyfish. When fishing oyster bars, this same pinfish under a bobber can be highly effective.  Both approaches can be used along mangrove shorelines.  If the wind or tide will move a bobbered bait right along the edge of the bushes, this is highly effective as large areas can be covered quickly. If fish are tucked into the mangroves, a split shot allows for accurate casting and will hold the bait in place so it does not become entangled in the mangrove roots.


When daytime temperatures begin to hold consistently in the seventies, expect water temps to warm to a point where back country snook will come to life.  These fish can be found in many bayous and canals, along mangrove shorelines and around Intercoastal islands and will generally congregate on south facing shorelines as these are the areas that collect the most heat early in the day. Nothing will trigger these fish to bite better than generously distributed whitebait.  When snook fishing, a good rule of thumb is to remain very patient.  Anchor you boat and let things settle down.  Begin to throw out some chum baits but wait before casting.  Most Tampa Fishing Captains know that if a snook can be triggered into eating a chum bait, that same fish is likely to eat again.  By waiting to cast, the angler is best prepared as, when a fish boils on chum, the angler can immediately throw a lively bait right on the spot and take advantage of the 5-5-50 rule.  This rule is the following: If a bait is thrown within 5 feet of a snook boil, within 5 seconds of the boil, there is usually at least a 50% chance that this bait will be eaten....so be patient.

With weather improving and everyone dying to get outside, kayaking or canoeing down a local River, like the Myakka, can make for a great weekend excursion. Spring training is here as well and although there may be some restrictions, most local ballparks are allowing partial crowds.  The Yankees (Tampa), Blue Jays (Dunedin) and Phillies (Clearwater) are all close by.  Good luck and Good fishing.



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