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We Are Fishing Down Here, Between fronts!

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Welcome to my latest report for West Central Florida! It's been an up and down winter season here, cold fronts blowing in every 7 days or so. I know, I know, nothing like what those of you in the north are experiencing. Just remember, our fish like a tropical climate too! They get a little funky with cold weather. Through it all, we've had some great days catching redfish and trout mostly. Here are the details...
Redfishing in the Clearwater area started slow this year but they have come on strong. In late February we were catching a lot of the smaller 'rat' reds on shrimp, basically on every oyster bar around. They were inhabiting a lot of docks and even the potholes on the flats. Now the bigger, upper slot and oversized fish have started to cooperate. They are schooling a bit and on the higher tides are eating pinfish, sardines and large shrimp. I have been focusing on the usual mangrove overhangs, and creek mouths that usually hold them this time of year. Mullet are schooling by the thousands still, so I follow the majority of mullet to locate the redfish, commonly grouping with them. Gold spoons are a great way to scout for redfish, fan-casting on the perimeters of mullet. Also jerkworms on a 1/8 jig can also be very effective.
Our trout fishery is outstanding right now. Many fish over the 20 inch mark. On a recent trip with a close friend Bill Rapp and his family, his 8 year old son Gannon got a 27 inch trout on a large sardine! It took off like a snook, even leaving the water at first! Of course not all are in that range, but we have had many days with fish ranging 18 - 24 consistently. All of the spoils islands in St. Joseph Sound and many of the surrounding flats are holding the big trout.
Snook are starting to poke their noses out a little bit. Still more on the eastern shorelines near the residential canals and creeks where they have survived the winter. I'm not picking on them much yet. They are still trying to recover from the kill the sustained three years ago. Although we aren't far away from seeing them in transitional areas on their way to the beaches to spawn. Their season closes again on May 1st, allowing them a reprieve to spawn with out being harvested at all.
We are seeing spanish mackerel busting glass minnows inshore. A few warm weeks in a row and they will be a couple miles offshore in droves. We are expecting a banner kingfish season also! There are reports from commercial boats near the Keys of millions of pounds of kingfish passing through the Florida Straits on their way into the Gulf! More than they've seen in recent years! I'm looking forward to getting some of my clients hooked up to these smokers! Guaranteed fun!
Ok, back to the boat for the next few days. Please call or email me to book your day out on the water. I have had a ton of trips booked lately by folks tired of the snow and cold up north, getting out of town for even a few days for some Florida sunshine and fishing! I'm here, ready to work hard for you! So call now and let's go fishing!

Capt. Brian

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