Spring Fishing in Tampa Bay – Redfish, Snook, Tarpon and Shark Season
Spring is here! Well I wish it, as it’s 40 degrees outside as I type this. Pretty cold for St. Pete Beach. It will be here soon enough though. Whenever a client asks me the best time fish down here, I was always respond,” in the Spring.” Mid-March through May is the time when we can fish for just about anything you want. Name the fish and it’s here or it will be soon.
Inshore fishing charters have a lot going on this time of year. Of course the flats are still loaded with Trout, but now the big breeder Redfish have invaded the flats of lower Tampa Bay. When you’re lucky enough to find one these schools in a feeding mood you can catch them until you never want to see another redfish again. There is one problem with these Redfish though, 95% of them are too big to keep. The state of Florida has slot limit of 18 inch minimum and 27 inch maximum. That’s a good problem to have. The Snook are also making their way of the winter hideouts. They cruise the mangrove shore lines looking for an easy meal. Toss a handful of scaled sardines to the edge, wait for the boil, cast to it and it’s game on. This is the time of year when my flats fishing charters are pretty likely to catch the West Coast Inshore Slam.
The beach is where it’s at! The grass flats and mangroves are not the only hot action in the Spring, St. Pete Beach is on fire. Spanish Mackerel, King Mackerel, Sharks, Cobia and by the end of spring the Tarpon show up. This when we fish the Gulf, usually within a mile from the shore, anchor up, start chumming with live sardines and see what we can bring up. Spanish Mackerel are very plentiful and you can catch as many as you would like, but it’s the King Mackerel, better known as Kingfish, that everyone wants.
They don’t call them “Smoker Kings” for nothing. They strip or “smoke” 100 yards of line off your reel before you know it. The average King is about 15 lbs., but we catch up to 30 lbs. on a regular basis and they can reach over 50 lbs. If you are into catching Sharks that’s easy, just grab a bigger rod and send back one of those Spanish Macks’ you just caught and hang on. Now with all this going on we’ve got to keep an eye out for Cobia, pictured above. They will come right up the boat usually in pairs, but sometimes more. Cobia are one the fastest growing fish in the Gulf of Mexico so they are never picky eaters. They are a great fight and even better table fare.
Towards the end of the Spring I’ve usually switched my gears into full Tarpon-fishing mode. This is when the Tarpon begin their annual migration up and down the Gulf Coast, and St. Pete Beach is loaded with these giants. These are my favorite fishing charters because they yield the first of many Tarpon of the season.
If some non-stop action is what you want, come to St. Pete Beach in the spring and give me a call 727-638-0975
Capt Kevin Walton