The Tampa Bay Times

By Ed Walker

The big news in North Pinellas and Pasco fishing right now is the arrival of billions of tiny minnows. From Honeymoon Island to the Pasco Reefs, the water is dark with small thread herring, scaled sardines, and perhaps most exciting “blood minnows”. These tiny red glass minnows swarm together in such dense schools that they turn the water red. When they get that thick, fish and birds of all kinds can simply dive in and gulp a mouthful of free food.

Recently near Honeymoon Island we found birds diving and fish crashing the surface just off the beach. Casting revealed that most of the fish were huge Spanish mackerel. Some weighing in excess of 6 pounds. It is not unusual to find late season tarpon joining in on these remarkable feeding opportunities either.  They will circle the permitier of the densest balt balls, occasionally leaping thru them and chugging down huge amounts of protein each time.

Perhaps the craziest thing I heard during all the minnow madness last week was from Bill Hackney and Ron D’Albora.  Fishing 5 miles off Anclote Key in 27 feet of water, they stopped on a school of frenzied fish munching minnows. They put out a few lures and quickly realized most of the fish were snook!  They caught several trolling Huntington Drone spoons (I saw the pictures) and one on a cigar minnow.  There is really no limit to what you might find taking part in these minnow mashing sessions, which makes it a very exciting time to head out fishing near the coast.