Unusually warm water has helped start a “spring” fishing rally rarely seen in February. Many seasonal species of fish and sharks that typically don’t show until late March or April have arrived in the bay area. Just offshore, kingfish have appeared in increasing numbers, extremely early in this part of Florida. Most have been caught outside 25 feet of water but with all the weirdness lately, there’s no telling where you might run into them. Big schools of scaled sardines, threadfin herring, Spanish sardines and cigar minnows also have shown up a month or so earlier. To get dialed in, keep an eye out for diving pelicans or gannets from just outside the beach sandbars to 20 miles offshore. The bait hasn’t been visible that often on the surface but once the birds point them out, you see lots of it below the surface on your sonar. Jigging up these baitfish, then slow-trolling them around the perimeter of the bait mass has yielded all kinds of fish. Kingfish to 20 pounds have been jumping on the hook as have Spanish mackerel, blacktip sharks and even giant redfish. With another week or so of warm weather, it’s likely tarpon will show up in the area.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at email@example.com .