Upper Tampa Bay, what a delight. Currently some of the most steady action around the entire region. Huge numbers of jacks and ladyfish, trout and redfish are also in the mix. Contrary to the other indications, winter is not actually over yet. The action in UTB does not cease when spring arrive, quite the contrary. I fully expect to see some great redfish action up here in the next four months to come.
It remains a good time of year to try it in this part of the Bay.
Redfish: Not what they were five years ago.
Trout, an option around the oyster bars.
Sheepshead, an option around the bridges. Possibly some snapper mixed in there.
Jacks and ladyfish can be an option for action.
Lure choices: Use the 12 Fathom lures. For sheepshead and snapper, live shrimp. If you want to jig pompano or black drum (more prevalent in summer) use the Silly Willy with the Uncle Neil teaser.
Snook trips will not be offered in 2021 for Strike Three Kayak Fishing charters for the fourth year due to the shortage of fish and management issues. This continues for a full decade now. Arguable. I say snook still need to be left alone.
At the request of my contemporaries, “keeping the message alive”: If you catch a snook: don’t take it out of the water for eight minutes taking pictures. Don’t “get a weight” of the fish. Enjoy the species if you cross paths, but take extra steps to make sure those fish remain in the living population. A huge contingency of the best respected fishing guides on the Gulf coast opposed their decision to reopen to harvest, made sincere pleads over and over to get the decision reversed but were ignored. Do your part and try to give this species a chance to return to prominence regardless of their faulty data and poor decision making.
Stay alert and make a difference:
Keep an eye out and make the phone calls. Illegal nets found in Upper Tampa Bay have been confiscated thanks to the tips from citizens. Working with the field staff, I personally know that they have a great response rate on the calls I make. Too many people do not make the attempt because they did not get a response in the past. Trust me, they do the best they can and they do respond as quickly as possible.
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. If you see a poacher: Make a phone call.