Tampa Bay Fishing Report May 2015

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Posted by: Captain Woody - Comments Off on Tampa Bay Fishing Report May 2015

Spotted Sea Trout: It seems are showing up on the grass flats and around rocky bottom edges. Other captains are reporting decent catches of big fish trout in the Ft. Desoto area and along the southwest shore. Smaller greenbacks work fine, but remember shrimp is always at the top of a sea trout’s list of favorite things to eat.  It’s like a lollipop to youngster they can’t seem to resist a plump, juicy and live bay shrimp dangling under a popping cork. I’m catching some really nice slot sized trout on rocky and grassy bottoms located throughout the bay area mostly in three to five foot of water. The bigger fish around the south end are popping up on both deep and shallow water grass flats. Good jerkbait action on shallow water grass flats allows you cover plenty of broken bottom pot holes that seem to hold the larger fish.

Brandy Mackerel

Spanish mackerel: Are showing up throughout the bay and anglers normally targeting this species each year are experiencing the first days of the big fish bite. And rightly so; and to coin the often used phraseTampa Bay’s Spanish mackerel are not your father’s Oldsmobile; these huge assassins are all over the bay and eating like there’s no tomorrow. We’re consistently catching giants topping the scales between three to five pounds and measuring close to 30 inches long. These big fish can practically snatch the rod right out of your hand, especially if you’re daydreaming with bait in the water. However, once you recover from the initial shock and awe of the massive strike and look down to discover half your lines gone and the rest is on the way out. Finally, you regain some composure and start regaining some control before that mouth full of razor sharp teeth cuts you off.

The teeth on these big mackerel are so brutal that I’m now using 60 lb. fluorocarbon and shiny longshank Daiichi hooks and we’re still getting cut off; but what great fun or better way to lose tackle. So, if you’re looking for some drag screaming action check out the mackerel fishing in Tampa Bay, you’ll be hooked.Tamara Holmes Hicks Apr 4 2015

Redfish: Are showing on the flats we are seeing some nice schools and catches of our favorite shallow water bruisers. We’ve seen some good action on high water around the mangroves on both greenbacks and cut bait. Many folks are not used to using cut bait or dead sticking as it’s often referred to but is works when fishing for redfish. Cut pinfish, ladyfish and mullet works equally well. Put a chunk on a circle hook and toss it way out into a likely travel lane for redfish, drop the rod into the rod holder, grab a beverage, sit back and relax and when the rod bends down grab it and reel. What do you know there is a redfish on the other end.  Often times when the rod bends you get a real surprise there is a giant shook on the other end. Snook especially the big ones, also like dead bait they find laying on the bottom. On the other hand if you can find a school of redfish and you have enough greenbacks to chum, you can peak their interest long enough to snatch several out of the school before the move off. Where are the redfish? They’re out there it’s a matter of looking until you find them.


Snook: Snook fishing in the summer is almost a given. Practically any mangrove shoreline holds snook provided there is bait and structure. And they are one of our most preferred and targeted species throughout the bay. Terrific ambush feeders they love lying in wait along shady mangrove root systems. Rocky shores and adjacent sand bars are also good places to investigate. Early morning flats produce well using topwater lures, but remember live greenbacks and cut bait also produces. Your best chances of catching one is during high incoming tides.

I can remember my dad telling me snook were not good to eat because they tasted like soap. Now I’ve learned the reason was no one ever skinned there fish they just scaled and filleted them. Hence, the name soapfish was coined for snook. However, folks apparently figured out how to clean fish by removing the skin and guess what… today every snook in the 28 inch to 33 inch slot goes home for dinner.

With the added fishing pressure we’re experiences, it’s possible if we don’t start practicing catch and release we’re not going to have any to catch. If you’re lucky enough to catch a slot snook let it go and perhaps the next person will do the same thing. Practically every angler is looking to catch them and given the amount of fishing pressure especially during weekends it’s a wonder they bite at all.

Cobia, Mangrove Snapper, Flounder, and Sharks: Just a matter of time and the cobia will show up around markers, on flats and buoy cans especially those holding bait. Mangrove snapper should be on fire this year as the water warms early. I’m anticipating a good snapper bite all summer. We’re also catching some nice southern flounder on the same rocky bottoms as the trout. The sharks are also showing up and if you’re interested it can be lots of fun, but be careful they are not to be taken lightly if you handle a smaller one.

Tarpon should begin showing up at the Skyway Bridge, Egmont Key and starting to migrate up the bay. As the winds start dying down we should have some really productive fishing days.