March Madness — Anna Maria style
March is here and with it comes warm southern breezes, longer days, hoards of tourists and best of all — spring time fishing.
Amidst jet skis, tour boats, rental boats and parasailers, eager fishers are venturing out to do their homework in anticipation of the springtime bite. Water temperatures are on the rise, triggering a migrations of our inshore species, and, well, I guess us, too.
Fishing structure has been a productive bite and still is. Fishing the beaches with jigs for pompano is another bite that has been available all winter. But now it’s time to venture back to the flats.
I’m now leaving the dock equipped with both shrimp and shiners, which is a sure sign it’s transition time. The morning bite on the reefs and wrecks is producing a respectable catches of sheepshead and mangrove snapper. Both species are readily taking live shrimp on a knocker rig. After a couple of hours of this, the wind that was a breeze in the morning, begins gusting to 20 m.p.h. —that’s when its time to head to the calm waters of the shallow grass flats. Live shiners for bait are attracting attention from hungry snook and spotted seatrout — both species in the slot, too. Redfish are following suit was well. Look for sunning reds on the shallow flats out of the wind. Be stealthy in your approach as these fish are being extremely spooky.
Finally, migratory fish such as Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jack crevalle and ladyfish are beginning to appear again. Look for diving birds along the beaches and throughout Southern Tampa Bay to find the fish. Live shiners paired with a long shank hook will work, but jigs and spoons are even better. Cast into frenzied fish and retrieved quickly. The rest will happen on it’s own.