March Fishing Report Tampa Bay 2013

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Posted by: Captain Woody - Comments Off on March Fishing Report Tampa Bay 2013

Fishing pressure continues to climb throughout Florida and because since it’s a wonderful pastime for friends and families it’s import that we protect the assets that give us such enjoyment.

Most anglers enjoy a good fish dinner, so don’t hesitate to take enough for a meal. However, filling your freezer with fillets is not in the best interest of protecting our assets. If we want a good fresh fish dinner you have an excellent reason to go fishing; “like we really need one”.

Unless properly frozen fish have a short shelf life usually 2 to 6 months depending on fat content and how it’s frozen. Otherwise it quickly becomes freezer burned and destined only for the garbage.

Regardless of how good your freezer is, nothing saves your fish if the package is not void of air with a pressed heat seal. Omega-3 fats are highly unstable and when exposed to air quickly oxidize, leaving that easily recognizable, rancid, fishy, smell and taste.

Whenever you take fish from your freezer and the seal is broken, be certain it passes the smell test.


Early mornings, light wind and a small ripple on the water are outstanding times to fish top water lures for Snook, Redfish and Trout. Anglers everywhere, especially throughout Florida seem hooked (no pun intended) on MirrOlure’s. Located in Largo, Florida this lure manufacturing company has committed to the highest quality since the beginning.

They continually improve and create state of the art fishing lures, resulting in millions of fish caught in both fresh and saltwater. From topwater prop baits and surface walkers to slow sinking and diving lures MirrOlure is the favorite of everyone.

One of the favorite topwater techniques in used over a shallow broken bottom grass flat is the “walk-the-dog”. Tips on setting the hook when using topwater lures;

Snook are much like freshwater bass; they both strike so violently it frequently pushes the lure out of the water without hooking the fish does. The key to a surface is always waiting until you feel the fish, before setting the hook.

Redfish on the other hand, usually swirl at the lure which almost pulls or pushes it down and sometimes ahead of the fish. This means they occasionally miss on the first attempt particularly in shallow water. If you’re “walking the dog” slow it down, but never stop it. If you stop the lure during the attack it usually turns away and loses interest. Again, wait until you feel the fish to set the hook.

Here’s a little something about hook setting. We’ve watched bass professionals wrench back on their rods to set the hook. Some reasons given for this type of hook set is quick reaction times result in good hookups, getting the stretch out their monofilament line and forcing the hook point (usually rigged weedless by embedding it into a soft plastic lure) out of the plastic lure and into the fish.

However, today with many anglers switching to braided line and open J-hooks; aggressive, haul back and set the hook techniques are unnecessary. Braid has little or no stretch and no memory just getting the slack out of the line usually forces the hook set. With braided line when you see or feel a strike quickly lift the rod to remove any slack line and reel; the hook does the rest. “Slack Line is Not Your Friend”.

One final point on hook setting involves circle hooks that have been around for centuries. Over the last 10 to 20 years and with a move toward environmentally friendly fishing “Circle Hooks” increased in popularity with recreational anglers.

They’ve proved to be the most fool proof way of hooking fish while producing the least damage. Hook sets normally occur in the outside edge of the mouth and seldom if ever throat or gut-hook a fish. Circle hooks are automatic, just lift your rod, take up any slack line, (which should not be there) and it’s a hookup. Trying to set the hook yourself before you feel the fish and guess what? The fish wins.

Snook: If February was any indication our snook bite should be great in March. As the water temperatures keep rising they continue moving into their summertime patterns. Greenbacks begin showing up and live bait anglers will be getting out that dreaded cast net. Look for Snook to pattern along outside edges and points along mangrove islands and shorelines and especially where tidal flows move bait. Our miles of grass flats with sandy potholes also offer excellent ambush locations. Live bait, suspending lures, topwater’s and soft plastics always produce.

Redfish: There’s nothing more exciting to a redfish angler than easing onto a shallow grass flat and seeing fish tails with that ever pronounced black dot waving in the air. The first thing is to identify which direction they are feeding and approach quietly from the other. Nature provided redfish with exceptional eyesight and even better hearing. It’s been said, “They can almost hear you change your mind”. Always presenting a low profile often times a serious angler will slip over the side then slowly and quietly wade to within casting distance. Now comes the tricky part, using a perfectly placed cast they try picking off the outside fish; never casting directly into the school.

If you’re scouting for Redfish you might notice that in almost every one of my reports I mention mullet schools; that’s because it bears repeating. When trying to locate feeding redfish remember they follow schooling mullet eating the baits they stir up. So I guess it stands to reason that fishing mullet schools usually produces reds. Some anglers use the dead stick method with cut ladyfish, mullet or chunks of crabs; other still prefer artificial lures or live bait.

Spotted Sea Trout: On incoming or outgoing tides March will continue producing good catches of trout. I cannot emphasize the excitement of using topwater lures on calm early morning trout grass flats. Trout love MirrOlure’s Top Dog Jr. and MirrOMullet. Twitch or “walk-the-dog” and pause the lure momentarily after each series. The anticipation is un-nerving. If the water’s three to five feet deep you might give MirrOlure’s MirrOdine and MirrOdine (heavy) a try these are great trout catchers.

For diehard live baiters use live shrimp, greenbacks, or fifty-cent size pinfish under a popping cork, find a deeper broken bottom grass flat and you’ll catch trout.

Cobia, Mackerel, Sharks: As the bait shows up these should follow. Check markers and cans holding bait and be ready to toss something in the path of a circling Cobia. Not picky about food Cobia will readily take large shrimp, small crabs and pinfish or toss them an artificial jerkbait or plastic eel. Mackerel with eat greenbacks, threadfins, silver spoons and of course shrimp lures.

“Give Me a Call & Let’s Go Fishing” – 813-477-3814 Captain Woody Gore is the area’s top outdoor fishing guide. Guiding and fishing the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Bradenton, and Sarasota areas for over fifty years; he offers world class fishing adventures and a lifetime of memories.

Single or Multi-boat Group Charters are all the same. With years of organizational experience and access to the areas most experienced captains, Woody can arrange and coordinate any outing or tournament. Just tell him what you need and it’s done.  Visit his website at: WWW.CAPTAINWOODYGORE.COM, send an email to wgore@ix.netcom.com or give him a call at 813-477-3814.