Redfish and Snook Fishing in Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Inshore Fishing is Heating up!

Redfish and Snook Fishing in Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Redfish and Snook Fishing

Tampa Bay Inshore Fishing

Technically, the Spring Equinox doesn’t occur until March 20, but for us here in Tampa, it basically starts at the beginning of February. By now, the flow of extreme cold fronts from the northern regions of the country have waned and our daytime temperatures consistently stay in the mid-70’s to 80 degrees.

As the month progresses, the water temperature continues to raise, and propels the fish to go on a major feed. Top on the list: snook. The snook fishing will be outstanding this month.

Other prime Tampa Bay inshore fishing targets are redfish and sea-trout. Redfish prefer to feed around oyster beds during a high tide. Sea trout, on the other hand, like to lie in wait on deep grass flats for bait to pass by with the moving tide.

Many times, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I would like. So, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Winter Solstice and Fishing

Today is the first day of winter and the shortest day of sunlight during the year.

The fishing lately or should I say, catching, has been up and down just like the weather. It’s 80 degrees in Tampa today and we’ve experienced above normal temperatures most of the month. A strong cold front passed through a couple of weeks ago, which brought the fishing to a crawl, but since then, the bite is back.

Winter provides a little something for every angler.

I’m catching snook, redfish and trout in deep-water areas adjacent to bay area grass flats and sheepshead around residential docks and pilings. And then there’s the power plant outflow.

Power plant outflows are an excellent fishing source on the coldest days of winter. When Tampa Bay water temperatures drop into the upper 50s, fish seek refuge in the warm-water outflows of power plants. The best part there’s a large varity of species that flock to the outflow. The most abundant of them are sharks. But, there’s also cobia, pompano, permit, mangrove snapper and jack crevalle.

Just like the fish I seek to catch, the bait, move into deeper waters for warmth as well. Most three and four post range markers will hold bait during the winter. Bridge pilings hold bait also. Catching bait around these deep-water structures can be challenging at times.

Most days, I’m fishing with scaled sardines; some days, shrimp. It all depends on availability.

Many times, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I would like. So, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Snook Fishing Tampa Bay

Snook Are in Full Spawn

The key to success with hooking up with a monster Tampa Bay snook is to fish during a strong tidal flow and have the right bait. Grunts, pinfish and large scaled sardines are prime snook baits. It’s also important to present the bait properly. Always cast up tide and let the bait flow back to the fish while keeping the bail on the real open. Once your bait is picked up and line starts rushing off the spool, close the bail with your hand and lift your rod tip for a solid hook set.

Mangrove snapper spawn this month also, so it’s a good time to go snapper fishing. Snapper fishing is easy. Just go load up your live-well full of bait and head to a rock pile, artificial reef or bridge and start chumming.

I like to cut up my own fresh chum from the live-well, but a frozen chum-block hanging off the stern will work. I good tidal flow works best for snapper fish as well, because it creates a flow of fish particles to pull the fish off the structure you’re fishing on.

As far as snapper bait. I like to use the smallest scaled sardine in the live-well. Better yet, if you have any 2-inch pinfish, use them. Snapper love them and they’re hearty on the hook.

There are two ways you can fish your snapper bait. Let it drop back with the chum slick while let out line or cast it out and let it swim in the current with the bail closed. The biggest thing about getting a hook up, is to be patient. Snapper will peck at the bait two, maybe three times before it inhales it, so don’t try to set the hook too soon!

Locating schooling redfish lately has been hit or miss, but I think that’s mainly due to the huge influx of freshwater that our area received during the last two weeks. Thankfully, we’re finally getting back to a normal pattern of afternoon storms. This should allow the waters to clear up and increase the odds for locating schools of redfish.

When I’m out fishing and the winds lay down in the middle of the day and the temperatures start to rise, I often crank up the motor and go search for triple tail or cobia.

Triple tail love to hang out around crab trap buoys and will eat just about anything you toss at them. They will also trail along with floating debris. I saw a bright orange object last summer that looked like a fish marker, so I went and checked it out. It turns out, it was a floating bait net with a large triple tail in it. My client cast a scaled sardine at it and the fish rushed out of the net and devoured the bait. So always be on the outlook.

Cobia on the other hand, like to hang around larger structure. Large buoys, range markers or navigation signs, any of these obstacles can attract cobia. Cobia like to shadow large stingrays that are cursing the grass flats too, so keep an eye out.

Wade is the hardest working fishing guide on Tampa Bay!

We have been out with him several times.  He arrives at the ramp with the bait well FULL! Wade does not waste the clients time finding bait like many other guides. He is up early and is loaded down with bait and ready to go from the second you step on his boat!

His boat is another thing worth mentioning too. Wade fishes out of a 24 Sheaffer, in my opinion the best custom bay boat money can buy! The boat is pleasure to fish out of for several anglers. HUGE bow and cockpit too with an excellent solid dry ride. Most other guides do not invest in a top shelf boat like a Sheaffer!

As to the fishing we have had AMAZING days with Wade! He works harder to catch you fish than any other guide I have fished with period! One example: On one of our last trips with Wade, we caught 110 snook & 30 reds! That was three anglers and we were going crazy hauling the fish in ALL DAY!

Patrick Bennett, Tampa, FL
May 23, 2017