Snook – Out of season but good catch-and-release sportfish
Although snook season has come to an end, catch-and-release action on linesiders still remains better than average. Many snook in the 20-26 inches are being caught along mangrove shorelines especially up under the bushes during the extreme high tides we are experiencing. Larger fish are mixed in with this bite, although most slot and over-slot fish seems to be staked out in waters slightly deeper such as sandy potholes and channel edges. Live shiners as bait are producing the most consistent action although pinfish and Spanish sardines are also being taken on occasion. I’m finding early and late stages of the outgoing tides are producing the greatest number of hook ups.
Spotted seatrout are still present on deeper grass flats — especially in Sarasota Bay. Fishing deep grass beds both north and south or Long bar are producing limits of slot fish for determined anglers. Fishing along the Gulf beaches is also proving prosperous for trout. Just remember, these fish are on the spawn so let those big females go after you get a picture with one.
On my own adventures with Southernaire fishing charters, I’m doing a lot of catch-and-release snook fishing. Finding new fish to target adds an extra challenge to the equation. It seems after you fish a group of snook for a couple of days they become wary of hitting a bait. This creates a great opportunity to go and search out a new fish to target. And what’s even better is while on the search you might just stumble upon that batch of big, big snook that haven’t been messed with yet.
Since it’s May, I’ve been on the look out for tarpon although I haven’t seen any large numbers of fish, yet. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge bite seems a little off for this time of year. Also, the dolphins are wreaking havoc on the tarpon fishers, which can make the bite challenging at best. There are some small groups of fish along the beach and the same can be said for the flats of Sarasota Bay and Southern Tampa Bay.
Lastly, if the wind ever stops blowing the mangrove snapper bite is still going strong. You just have to be able to make it out there. Limits of fish up to 20 inches are being caught. Also, while targeting snapper keep your eyes peeled for cobia, as they are starting to slow in decent numbers.