Preston Walls, visiting from Seattle, shows off this 35-pound blackfish caught recently off Dick and Judy Widgerís dock in Indian Rocks Beach. Neighbors as well as his wife, Ashleigh, and daughter, Meryl, rallied around Walls to cheer him on and helped net the fish.
Full moon tides and a couple of days of postcard perfect weather resulted in some memorable days fishing by the end of last week.
Schools of redfish were grouped up tight on the low tides, and sea trout fed well on the high outgoing tides. Spanish mackerel and kingfish numbers are on the rise as we start to see more and more bait make its way into the area, and bonus fish like cobia and triple tail are becoming targetable when the weather is right.
As early week stormy conditions fade back to beautiful days, itís likely we wonít see the same spring setbacks this week as weíve seen with the past two cold fronts. Mid- to upper- 70-degree temperatures with a lot of sunshine should fast-track the bait right into our area. Whether you like to catch and fish with fresh bait or prefer using artificial lures, there is no doubt that when thereís plenty of bait around the fish just feed better.
If youíre looking for a baitwell full of pilchards, you might be disappointed. However, there are enough of them around to make the effort. Pre-dawn starts are a must. Working bridge shadow lines in the dark will give you a chance at all kinds of fresh bait including pilchards, threadfins, ladyfish and shad. All are great baits this time of year. Although the live bait will account for some great fish right now, numbers still lie with the fresh cut bait.
Chunks of ladyfish and cut threadfins have been working excellent for the reds and accounting for enough gator trout to think you could easily just fish cut bait. Low tides will have the fish sitting out on the edges of grass flats. Find the entry point and youíll be in the fish. Work a top-water plug first thing in the morning and you will most likely find that entry point.
Spoil islands are still producing good trout fishing. Afternoon high outgoing tides this week will be good. As the light begins to fade you can expect big trout to get hungry. Free-line or cork live pilchards or grass grunts on the tide swept corner of the islands and you could be fishing for a trout of a life time.
We had multiple fish over 26 inches this past week. These big females are the spawning stock for our trout rich fishery and a healthy release is encouraged.