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It’s March Madness on the Grass Flats!

With spring just right around the corner, March is shaping up to be an excellent time to fish.

Baitfish will be arriving on the grass flats by mid-month. Along with this influx of baitfish, snook, redfish and sea trout will be moving out of the back country and their deep winter haunts to feed until winter rolls around again.
Usually, March ushers in the harvest of snook, but due the moratorium on snook, redfish and sea trout, there’s little you can take home to eat. However, the catch and release fishing will the outstanding.

Let’s say, you couldn’t care less about releasing fish, and you gotta eat!
Sheepshead are still spawning and are relatively easy to catch if you’re fishing for them in the all the right places. I’m finding sheepshead in deep sandy holes on the grass flats, around oyster beds, bridge pilings, and artificial reefs. Baits of choice for these bandits, are shrimp, fiddler crabs, and believe it or not, small pieces of barnacle.

Mangrove snappers have been biting well all winter long and will just become more active as the water warms. When fishing for sheepshead around bridge pilings and artificial reefs, we start catching snapper also. Snapper love to feed on shrimp, crabs and scaled sardines.

When fishing for both species, I use a 1/0 hook and as little weight as necessary to suspend the bait into the strike zone. I always start a chum slick to get the action going. I like to anchor up tide and let particles of ground up baitfish draw whatever quarry I’m after, right to the boat.

Lastly, on table fare: By mid to late March, I’ll be running a short distance offshore to catch king mackerel. Their spring migration usually kicks off around St. Patrick’s Day and last four to six weeks, depending how along the water temperature stays in their comfort range. Along with the king mackerel, there will be schools of Spanish mackerel mix in.

Some people want to keep fish, and I get it! Fortunately, most of my clients just enjoy catching fish. Otherwise with all the closures, I’d be living in a van, down by the river.

My clients are catching plenty of snook right now. Alongside the snook, some of the largest trout most people have ever caught in their life are being released. I haven’t been targeting redfish much lately, but I will be this month as large schools begin to invade the grass flats.

The fly fishing is extremely good right now for snook and sea trout. If you’re not a purist and are willing to cast a fly once I have the fish chummed up with live bait, you won’t be disappointed. It’s as easy as matching the hatch. A cave man can do it!

Stay fishy my friends.

Pictured: Longtime client Brennan Porter and his now fiancee, Rachel. Brennan proposed later that day!

November is a Great Month to Fish!

Finally, cooler weather has moved into the Tampa Bay area and the water temperatures have dropped to the upper 60’s and this has had a huge impact on the concentrations of fish. When the water cools, fish seek warmth. There are areas in the upper Tampa Bay regions that hold hundreds of snook due to the water depth and a muddy bottom that builds heat during the day and retains it overnight. Not only do these snook congregate in astounding numbers, they’re extremely hungry.

Once I set up to catch these fish, I chum heavily with live bait to activate the bite. After the snook begin to feed, which is usually only a matter of minutes, I start baiting hooks. Then it’s on like Donkey Kong! Most times, a snook will then take your bait as soon as it hits the water. Even beginner fly anglers can get in on the action, because it’s literally like shooting fish in a barrel.

The good news is, this kind of non-stop snook catching last through the rest of fall and all winter long. It’s commonplace for clients to catch 50 or more snook an outing. During the winter of 2015, four separate charters caught and released over 100 snook. Your party could be next!

Not only are the snook huddling up, so are the redfish and trout. Occasionally, I’ll catch trout and some redfish in my snook spots, but usually I move to areas with deeper water. The deeper the water, the warmer. I still chum to get the action going, before baiting the hooks for solid hook-ups.

Cooler weather has also ushered in the king mackerel, aka kings or kingfish. Kingfish are making their annual migration run along our coast as they head back to the Florida Keys for the winter.

My favorite method for catching kingfish is slow trolling with live bait, which usually produces larger fish and is by far the most exciting. Many times, you get to watch the fish take the bait. Other times, a kingfish might skyrocket on a bait trolled in the prop wash.

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.

You can’t pick a better fishing guide!

For anyone thinking about fishing in the Tampa/St Petersburg area, Captain Wade is the man. He’s the real deal. My two sons and I hooked up with Wade and literally from the first cast within 15 minutes of leaving the boat ramp, we were on fish up until the time we left in the afternoon. It was non-stop action.

Top-notch professionalism, first-class is the way Captain Wade fishes! You can’t pick a better fishing guide to give you your money’s worth. I have fished all around Florida and Texas and Afishionado is by far the best guide service we have ever had!

Joe Martin, Bowling Green, KY
August 05, 2017