Last weekend’s cold front will undoubtedly be a setback in the natural progression toward spring.
Our inshore water temperature last Friday was 68 degrees. Flash forward to Monday and we were looking at mid-50 degree waters.
This dramatic change will have the fish turned off for a couple of days, but look for the action to turn on again by the weekend with a combination of rising water temps and good tides.
Speckled trout remain at the top of the list in our northern part of the county. Fish almost any of the spoil islands from Clearwater Harbor north thru Dunedin on the changing of the tides, with low to high being the best.
A free-lined live shrimp is rarely refused. Be sure to make up-tide casts in order to get a natural presentation. When the tide is low the fish will move way off the islands, so a good approach would be to start shallow and continue to move out deeper until the fish are located.
Sheepshead fishing is hot right now and is a great option on windy days. Most deep docks from residential canals, to marinas and pass entrances will have some or maybe a bunch of sheepshead on them. Use a small live shrimp or a piece of a big shrimp on a relatively small hook, usually a 1/0 will suffice, with just a small amount of lead, like a number 4 split shot. Using too much weight will make it difficult to detect the bite, which is often very subtle.
Redfish fishing continues to improve county wide, the Fort De Soto area has been the most consistent spot to find a school of fish as they make their way onto such famed hot spots as Tarpon Key, Conception Key, Cow and Calf Keys. These small islands are redfish magnets in the early spring. On calm days anglers can fan cast artificial lures like gold spoons and lightly weighted soft-plastics as they drift, push pole, or slowly trolling motor around the schools of mullet, giving special attention to island points that have oyster growth around them. On less than perfect days you may opt for either a live pinfish fished shallow underneath a cork or tail snipped laying on the bottom.
Until next week, get bent!
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To get a fish photo in the paper, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to editorial@TBNweekly.com or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.