The bay area has been on fire over the last month and will only continue to heat up!! My main target the last couple weeks has been snook, which are moving out of their winter areas and heading toward the passes to fatten up before the spawn. These fish have been very aggressive, attacking live whitebait almost as fast as you can put it in the water. I have been fishing incomming tides, and have been freelining my baits on a NO. 1 circle hook.
Another species that is coming on strong right now in the bay area are the spannish mackeral. They are here thick, following the bait schools up into the bay. A live greenback works well for these fish, rigged on a NO.1 longshank J hook. I use the long shank hook because it prevents the mackeral from biting through the line, and I feel it helps me land more fish. Please be courteous of others fishing the mackeral schools, start your drift well upcurrent of the fish and let them work towards you....turn your engine off, and use a trolling motor or drift through the school casting as you go.
As for the upcomming month of April...the fishing is goin to stay hot...and with the coming of the famed "Silver King" anglers in Tampa Bay will be out in full force. Toward the end of April and the beginning of may look for the Tarpon to arrive. These fish stop around our beaches, bridges and passes on thier annual migration along the gulf coast. When targeting these fish use heavy tackle, 50LB braid connected to 60LB leader and a 6/0 circle hook. Keep heavy pressure on the fish, get them to the boat quickly, take a photo and then revive and release them. The more we all do to conserve this fishery the better it will be in the coming years.
Also in April, Snook will continue to make a strong showing. They will begin to move from the passes and toward the beaches to spawn. April and May are prime months in Tampa Bay to catch a trophy snook. However, just like Tarpon, make sure you release them carefully, because those trophys are often times our breeders that keep our stocks plentiful for the coming years.