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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!

Usually, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I’d 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.

The Afishionado 100 Snook Club Has New Members

The Afishionado 100 Snook Club

New Inductees into “The Afishionado 100 Snook Club.”

Back during the winter of 2015, I had four different charter clients who caught and released over 100 snook. The numbers were as follows: 112, 103, 123 and 110. After the first milestone, I established the Afishionado 100 Snook Club. Well, I’m happy to say that Pedro, Gus and Regan, topped the record with 125 on Friday, February 16.

This day started as any other. I woke at 4am to launch my boat before daybreak to go catch bait. At 10am, I picked up my New York client and his two 13-year-old twin boys and headed to my first snook spot. After four hours they landed 86 snook in that one location. As the action slowed, I suggested we move to another area, so they could “join the club.”

Once there, hungry snook surrounded the boat and the action continued. After they caught their 100th snook, I said, “let’s top 122.” The boys were all for it, even though their dad was ready to call it quits. Luckily, it took less than an hour to reach the 125 mark, then I pulled anchor so I could be back at port by 4pm.

This kind of action doesn’t happen every day, but when it does, there’s cause for celebration.

WHO’S NEXT?

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.

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 Barnett, Tampa, FL
May 23, 2017