So typical for spring: The winds are usually blowing.   But anyone getting out there anyway has seen that the longer days have caused several things to occur:  Water temperatures have risen significantly.   Hand-in-hand with that, pelicans can be seen diving on massive schools of bait in various areas around Tampa Bay.    Subsequently the fish seem poised to make a charge out onto the flats once they decide that it’s time to leave the backwaters.    Overall, the wind has been better than I would expect.  

With that arrival of bait, we encountered mackerel the last week.  They’d been available most of this mild winter with a maintained food supply of bait that didn’t move out of the Bay, but now that the invasion of inshore bait schools is underway the mackerel are here in decent numbers and by mid-month there should be a huge spanish mackerel run. 

Several weeks ago the redfish opportunities seemed to improve in both quantities of fish caught and the size of the fish caught.  Word is, there are some around Pinellas Point.     I am seeing very few.    Some of the schools located were downwind of islands and at creek mouths which also seemed to be out of the wind.   Some fed readily and some were frustratingly stubborn.   Their numbers are just not outstanding.     Stocking efforts have started but they are just not nearly big enough to make a difference.   

The schools of whiting weren’t in their normal spots for the first time in months, also a signal of changes that are ahead.   Just not a great year for them.  

Silver trout are still available.   They’re great fun on light tackle and will hit just about anything you get down and bump up and down off the bottom once you locate them.   Like whiting:  Just not a great year for them.     But if you hit the right spot you could get into them.  

Speckled trout are still a great inshore target.  Probably the best we have really.    For three weeks:   Big trout every trip, as many as you could catch.      My new trout rule:   Release them all over 18 inches.     Help the future.    Leave the biggest ones in these waters to keep spawning.    

It’s a busy week ahead and I hope that everyone else is enjoying the fishing and hopefully light winds.   

As always: Be careful out there.  

Neil Taylor
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