Gator trout fishing remains top on the list for action. The grass flats south of Tarpon Springs remain the best bet. Mixed in this week were some very large schools of jacks. Drifting while casting jigs and slow sinking Button Eye minnows in 2 to 6 feet of water gets the nod. Slow down your presentation, as it is evident the trout are still a little sluggish yet. Even though your temperature gauge may read in the 70s, the trouts temperament is in the 60s. Folks, be advised trout season is closed in Pasco County. Do not bring your fish into any ramps in Pasco County. The Florida Marine Patrol was out in force last weekend at Anclote Park handing out some big time tickets. I was witness to one fellow who was in an outrage about the 9 fish he had, and the citation for $250 per fish the FMP had.
A few snook are poking their heads out. Its still very borderline for these fish and all early spring patterns apply. Bright blue skies after even the mildest of fronts, persistent wind from the same direction over a period of days, incoming tides (incoming blues) and quarter moon phases during high pressure will all kill snook fishing.
At this time of year look for snook to be soaking up some sun on dark bottom adjacent to other heat absorbing materials, deeper water and lairs facing the Southern Hemisphere. Like a dog that first circles a new room upon entering it, expect the snook to do a similar thing along river, canal, and creek mouths and adjacent shorelines. It is typical during the quarter moons for the fish to be spread out a bit, so its a good idea to move around a little. Pay particular attention to enhanced tides created by an approaching front (higher than high) and passed fronts (lower than low) and take advantage of these situations on the quarter mooon. The up-coming major moons will see the fish tight and staged as best as can be expected in 1999.
As it has been promoted at the top of fishing report columns, television shows and among one of the states largest fishing networks per capita this past week the deadly sardine is available. Unfortunately for the snook, 1999 weather patterns will take their toll on these most special fish. Granted the fish will run their patterns weeks ahead of schedule. And, just like the third day of the arrival of the magic baits (north), fisherman will be well armed to put a hurting on these fish before they ever have a chance to spawn just once. While the increased size limit will help, it wont nearly be enough. When will we learn, who too is responsible for the declining stocks of snook?
With exception of a hard freeze nothing kills more snook than whitebait in this present day. The minnow is so productive; it has created a whole fleet of snook experts. While the state says you can not harvest snook over 34 inches, it is up to those who catch snook consistently to make tighter restrictions on their own vessel. Further, we must educate not only about scaled sardines, but what a special resource a snook is in this area and in need of special concern. Bragging about your first big snook with a picture fresh from the 1-hour photo will outlast any dead snook. I regret to say they just are not here like they were years ago. Anyone who was snooking then knows what I am saying is true. Remember snook are opportunist at this time of year and scaled sardines are not totally necessary. For those who enjoy the art of fishing artificials, now is your time!!!
Reds are where you find them. Loose pods are being caught on oyster and rock out-croppings tight to the shoreline. The water is very clear and a silent approach or staking out a travel path is the best way to ambush these fish. Again this week, the fish have not been numerous aboard the Bounty Hunter, but the quality has been outstanding.
There has been a few kings taken the last few days. My dealer Brad Stoller of the Boat Authority in St. Petersburg, was in the Keys for the first SKA tournament. He reports the fish are still way south. Along with the kings, expect the first of the jumbo permit to start showing over the nearshore wrecks and ledges over the next few weeks.
Tarpon, like snook are very diurnal fish. Though there will be some activity now and the next few weeks, it wont be until after that spring equinox that we will see major migrations. We have opened time in April for some great backcountry tarpon fishing. A La Nina means a dry spring and perfect for sight casting giant laid up tarpon!!!
Screaming Drags and tired arms!
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