Tampa Fishing Reports

2023 March Tampa Clearwater Fishing Report

Short of an early March cold front, temperatures are shooting up quickly. As March comes to an end, water temps are consistent with late spring..which translates to the following.  A few kingfish have been reportedly caught shallow but it's likely that they'll keep moving north as their comfortable range will soon be passed.  Fish may be available further offshore for a while but inshore/nearshore captains are already gearing up for the best inshore fishing of the year. Early warmth has made catching snook possible on every Tampa Fishing Charter.  Most of these fish are 16 - 28 inches but keeper fish are available.  Assuming no more cold, the few fish now seen on the beach will be followed by many more and the size of these fish will progressively increase until sizable quantities of the large breeders arrive in May. Large whitebaits are the best bait choice right now as small and large fish alike will eat them. In another month, grass grunts will be useful in targeting the larger fish.

Spring Clearwater Snook Fishing

Big seatrout are still being caught in good numbers inside the intercostal waterway but this is likely days away from changing. Water temperatures will push these trout to the beach in the next few weeks and these fish will remain a dependable target until late May, when they begin to disperse. Free-lined pilchards will be the bait of choice for these fish. If larger pilchards are used, make sure to allow several seconds for the fish to take the bait and turn it in its mouth. Trout typically grab the bait from the side and too rapid a response takes the nose hooked pilchard away from the fish before the hook is actually in the trout's mouth.

Jumbo St Josephs Sound Seatrout

 

As March turns to April, the bigger high tides start to shift back to daytime hours and this bodes well for redfishing. These tides bring a lot of productive shorelines back into play...most notably the mangroves. For the past three weeks, these higher tides have already paid dividends as the larger fish of spring are beginning to appear. Target these shorelines as soon as there is enough water to allow fish access into the mangroves. Similar to fishing the open flats, areas with large mullet concentrations could signal a productive redfish area. Be persistent and cover lots of area until fish are located. As redfish will almost always eat, quickly moving along a shoreline presenting baits into pockets will uncover many fishy areas.  Also, scan the shoreline visually for moving fish as this could indicate multiple fish in an area. Any bait will get the job done for redfish. Typically, pinfish, cut baits and pilchards are used.  Larger pinfish can be used to target bigger fish. Cut chunks of pinfish, mullet and ladyfish are very effective baits for the numerous reasons....casting accuracy, casting distance and toughness.  These baits are difficult for smaller fish to pull off the hook allowing them to soak until a reddish comes along.

As a side note, a few groups of tarpon have already been seen locally so it looks like everything is heating up early. Good luck and good fishing.  

Caledesi and Honeynoom Island Redfish

 

 

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