Neil Taylor, Upper Tampa Bay


Plunging toward the month of May, great opportunities in the northern extent of the Bay.    Redfish and trout will remain the best options.     The numbers of snook continue to remain poor and there is little question that the recovery of that species is still going to take a great deal more time.  Like years given the decision to allow harvest.      The wipeout of the Fall harvest season is continuing with the current open season.   A pity.  Most of the veteran anglers are steering clear of the species hoping that, left alone, they will be back to a great stature again sometime in the future.   A pity also:  The people in charge have ignored our Stakeholder Panel.    It may be time to just have everyone speak up and have some major changes made with the program.   These people are disappointing.   Top to bottom:  Dreadfully disappointing.

Redfish remain a decent target but probably not as easy as the previous three spring seasons.   They like the shorelines on high tides and stay in depths of 1.5 feet of water at all other tides.    The rootbeer 12 Fathom Mullet is a killer bait for these fish.     Make long casts and keep the lure down by the bottom.   Redfish in Upper Tampa Bay are notoriously aggressive compared to other places around the regions.  They will strike a lure multiple times whereas you usually only have “one shot” in other parts of the Bay.

Trout are still being caught, big trout, if you know exactly where to go.   Large trout, over 21 inches, have been regular catches in the evenings in parts of Upper Tampa Bay.   They are eating jigs and topwater lures.    The Mirrolure series of topwater lures is exceptional for targeting and catching big trout on topwater lures.    Try the Top Dog Junior “18” and see how they respond to it.    This action will slow as things “get hot” something that is coming.   There is another month of “spring” left before the dreadful heat…..but… is coming.

Big black drum are about to load up on the bridge pilings.   Pompano will not be far behind.    With the work of the FWC and targeting poachers, this year will hopefully be as good as the last.

The rainy season is coming up fast.   I like the rain.   I grew up in the desert.    Hopefully the red tide that is lingering does not end up being fueled by our upcoming rains.

Get out and enjoy the action in this part of our waters!

The lower Bay area continues to produce incredibly steady action.   What was already “good” action on redfish and speckled trout, the numbers of fish around the south shore is impressive.   Flounder action has exploded  but they are not all in yet.  “The Rest” will include the biggest and will happen any time now.   The 12 Fathom SlamR on a 1/8 to 3/16-ounce jighead is a flounder catching machine.   Slow and steady, ridden along bumping the bottom, fat flounder will pounce on the lure when it goes over their nose.   The flounder are very aggressive and have been following lures, something that is not always the case.    Notorious for dropping lures, let it flutter back down when they let go.   You will be amazed how many flounder you will catch that strike a lure until they are finally hooked.

Repeat from last report: The Skyway Pier are on fire for mackerel.    The Silly Willy/Teaser rig is the best kept secret for hooking and catching a lot of mackerel in a short period of time.    And it is much easier than slinging and cranking those spoons.  Landing technique:  It takes some practice but if you lean over the side, reel up all the slack and then launch the fish upward swiftly, the mackerel will come over the rail.    Take care not to dangle fish on the surface for very long or you will be hooking pelicans.   The Skyway piers have nets available for helping injured birds.

Redfish action is best sunrise and sunset.    Trips in the evening and pre-dawn have held the very best action when the sunlight is minimal.   An occasional accidental snook will strike a lure meant for a redfish.   The 3-inch mullet is the best lure to throw to redfish and you can use your favorite colors.   Greengo, rootbeer gold glitter and Shimmer Gold have been great choices.

Trout action got interesting down in the southshore region.   The action on 16 inch fish is strong.   Move around to try to locate even bigger fish but there are plenty of lower slot fish in this area.    An occasional giant, you also have to deal with some undersize fish in the search for larger trout.     That is, as we say it “Just the way it is.”

Sharks have invaded the Bay.   This will be an exceptional year for blacktip sharks.   The deeper troughs hold a lot of sharks in the summer months and this year will have more than usual.   Blacktips will eat lures but can be easily caught using whole, live baits like oversize pinfish.    In other areas, they were eating silver trout that were being reeled in.   Be cautious when handling a hooked shark.   They can contort and bend and will try to defend themselves when they are being handled.    A long-handled dehooking tool is a good investment.

As always: Be careful out there!

Neil Taylor
(Cell) 727-692-6345