The Tampa Bay Times

The bite has been very strong in recent days in north Pinellas County. The trout bite is exceptional and bait has been plentiful along the beaches and near the passes. The warming trend has gotten the fish fired up and strong tides have produced high numbers of catches. The trout are preferring live sardines over most other live baits. They are gathering in numbers along the spoil islands and the edges of the grass flats from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. Once located, long casts and short moves will keep you in school for a while. However, dolphin and sharks have been quite aggressive recently, scattering the schools of trout while chasing them for a meal. When this happens, I’ll often move to a new location. Redfishing has improved tremendously. Large schools of mullet have held the bigger fish, and as the tide rises, redfish schools are moving into the mangroves. I’ve been targeting any mangrove shoreline that has a multitude of mullet jumping near the trees or clogging the openings under the mangroves limbs. Cut pieces of pinfish, ladyfish, sardines or mullet have been working. As the tide moves out, the redfish will stay with the mullet schools exiting the flats. Gold spoons and root beer colored jerk worms are great options to hook up redfish working the perimeter of the school. Snook have been responding lately as well. They are beginning to creep out of the back country and stage up in some transitional locations on the way to the beaches eventually. Again, live sardines have been getting the most action. The outgoing tide has produced the most fish on my recent trips. Further cold fronts are inevitable, but we are very close to spring and the fishing should continue to improve.