By Neil Taylor,

Mackerel are still one of the top stories around the lower portion of Tampa Bay.   It is March and it is primetime for spanish mackerel.   Use the Silly Willy with Uncle Neil teaser and move it violently through the water.    Usually up in the water column, move it around until you have located them.

Sheepshead are still an item down there.   Three trips for them:  All successful.   It is that time of year.   Some of them are really big.   Sheepshead dinners, something that hasn’t happened for some time around here, are very welcome.   Dip them in egg, then flour or bread crumbs and in a pan on the stove I have olive oil superheated.   Flip them a couple of times, and you have your dinner.  

Trout action went from mediocre to outstanding to end February and start March.   The big fish are sitting in the holes.   Smaller fish over the deeper grass.  Trout have been the easiest option for years.   Will they reopen to harvest this year?    No one really knows for sure.   

Flounder are becoming an item again?   Not yet and it has been a few years, but maybe it will happen this year.   Way early, I think it is more a factor that they don’t all leave every winter but some of the indications are that the flatties are following the baitfish in.   Hopefully it is better this year.  

Silver trout:   Haven’t tried them on the south shore but if you find the right deep basin, there should be some.  

Redfish and snook remain a challenge.   Just not what they used to be you have to work hard to get into this action.   Species closure for them both, over time, hopefully they become better.   In the opinion of all the people in the know, keep them closed.   Trout can reopen but leave snook and redfish off the table.  

The south shore remains a “place to go” in Tampa Bay.    Fewer boat ramps, less pressure, you can usually have the action down here.    The variety of action is obvious.

In a battle that is never really over: The great work of FWC officers to target felony netters and keep an eye on other recreational offenders has led to better fishing for us all.  Their continued efforts to catch felony netters are making the south shore region return as a great fishery again.   But help them out:  Keep your eyes peeled for illegal activity and make a call if you see poaching, 888-404-FWCC (3922).  Your tips will help make cases and you could be eligible for a reward.  The fishery survives the pressure of poaching, a lot of anglers and just continues to be a great location to go.  

As always: Be careful out there!

Neil Taylor
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