Early Springtime Patterns
What’s Hot- With springtime upon us, many inshore tournaments will be on the hunt for an inshore slam consisting of a trout, a redfish and a snook. This triple crown of inshore fishing will have anglers working different patterns to catch all three species in the same day. The speckled trout bite has been great while the tide floods around the spoil islands off the intracoastal waterway. Work the deeper edges with sardines or imitation crankbaits. Be sure that the bait placement stays near the bottom, where these predators are feeding. As the tides rise, redfish will work into the shallows and feed among the mullet schools that are easily found among the flats of St. Joseph Sound. Pinfish, shrimp and cutbait are top offerings for reds which feed primarily off scent. The schools of redfish are averaging 22 to 30 inches and will give away their location by muds mixed in with the mullet. On higher water, work the mangrove roots to dig out the bigger bruisers that use the structure as ambush zones.
The most difficult fish of the slam will be the snook, as water temperatures keep changing by the week. Most of these linesiders are making the transition from the backcountry toward the beaches. If the water can warm up a little and keep the mercury climbing up towards the upper-seventies, the snook bite should get good in the deeper holes leading out of the bayous and rivers. “Whitebait” or sardines are the most valuable tool to catch springtime snook. This candy will make even the most finicky “robalo” eat when presented properly to them.
With a warming trend finally in place, the shallows throughout St. Joseph Sound have come to life. As bait schools emerge inside passes and the water clarity is at a premium, both trout and redfish schools are working the flats on flooding tides. Some of the biggest trout of the season will be caught over the next couple of weeks as the full moon will have these females staging up along the spoil islands and oyster bars along the mainshore. Anglers working the swift current along points and dropoffs will have the best luck as these yellowmouths will wait to ambush an easy meal.
The redfish schools are holding among the mullet and can easily be sightcasted to as the darker muds will give away their location. Select-sized shrimp have worked best when “bobby-rigged” under a cork. This method keeps the crustacean down in the strike zone longer and draws vicious strikes. On quarter moon tides when the water level is not at a premium, be sure to fish the potholes leading into the flats, as these staging spots are easily seen with a high sun. Working gold spoons is a great artificial this time of year for redfish as it covers a lot of ground and different depths of the water column.
With “whitebait” as a weapon, anglers are able to catch snook making the exit from the backcountry. Deeper holes leading into bayous and rivers are the best places to try for the linesiders on falling tides. The outgoing tide will have warmer water and stimulate the bite for the prized gamefish.
With changing weather over the last week, wind has played a key factor in determining where anglers will fish. When a good cold front approaches, the wind pattern always brings in a strong south wind and low pressure which stimulates the fish to feed well. The south wind will also bring in extra water on high tides and flood into St. Joseph Sound. Many oyster bars will have deep water covering them and allow redfish to find bait and crabs among the shells. Working the bars on mangrove points will have increased tidal flow and hold more fish. By using the wind to aid in long casts, many of my anglers this week had larger reds crashing free-lined sardines. Twenty pound fluorocarbon leader is needed as the fish will break off against the structure. Big schools of these bronze bruisers should start working the shallows inside the passes around the upcoming full moon on the 26th.
As the speckled trout run gets into full swing in the sound, stronger currents along the dropoffs of islands and flats are holding the big females in search of an easy meal. Increased winds will push bait against the islands and present an ambush spot to feed. Good numbers of fish are being caught at daybreak before the boating pressure slows the bite down. Sightfishing to five pound trout is reaching it’s peak as the fish will lay up in skinny water. Boat positioning is key to presenting bait or lures to these trophy gamefish.
As the cooler weather blankets our west coast again, inshore fishing techniques will involve focusing on warmer pockets where gamefish will hold. Shallow flats that are near any type of bayou, river or canal system will have a tendency to stabilize the water temperature. Oyster bars and mangroves are great ambush areas to work. The outgoing tides will invite redfish and trout to use these feeding zones as water flushes through with each tidal exchange. Sightcasting to fish layed up in mere inches of water is exciting in that a Pumpkin Jigs Slamr rigged weedless can be worked slowly along the bottom and still draw aggressive strikes. On the higher tides , the new Mirrolure Paul Browns(The Original) are the key to catching those five pound trout. Once again- the slower the lure is worked the better.
Working the sandy potholes with a select-sized shrimp, has lead to a variety of fish this season. Larger pompano, flounder and redfish have all been taken while slow drifting through a grassflat with these depressions mixed in. By locating the big mullet schools, clients are hooking into larger redfish that will feed among the muds left behind.
With a high pressure settling in after a front, the clear skies can make the bite tougher. By downsizing in leader to 15 pound fluorocarbon and making those extra long casts, anglers will disguise the presentation better and find more hook-ups. Using a trolling motor or push pole to approach a desired spot is also necessary to help relieve pressure on shallow water fish.
As the month of January goes along, cold fronts will play a major role in where inshore fish will stage up to feed. Tide, wind and water temperature are the key ingredients that determine which flat or island that speckled trout and redfish will like to hold around. On cooler days, most of these gamefish will have a tendency to push into the south facing shorelines that will produce heat as the day goes on. Even a change of couple degrees in water temps will help to stimulate fish to hunt down a meal. For anglers seeking to catch larger trout, a cold front can help to move these big females from the deeper water and allow some great sightcasting opportunities among the shallows. These 4+ pounders will often lay up in six inches of water and let the tide flush in an easy meal. Weedless jerkbaits and freelined shrimp are the best weapons to convince these weary fish into biting after passing fronts.
Shallow sandy flats and oyster bars that have good current will set the table for catching quality redfish. This next full moon on the 27th should bring in a fresh crop of redfish into the shallows of St. Joseph Sound. This estuary has such clean water that stealth is key to catching the big fish. Light leader and long casts will aid anglers in search of a bronze bruiser. Larger slot fish are hanging in the dropoffs along the flats and can also be found cruising with the mullet schools. A weedless gold spoon works well to cast into these jumping fish. Be sure to work near the bottom, as this is where reds like to feed.
The brand new 2012 Fall season of “Average Angler” will premier with a broadcast of Captain Jim in a 2 part series starting Thursday, Sept. 13th at 6 p.m. Watch as Glen Pla and myself catch some HUGE Snook and Redfish along our West Coast of Florida. The highlight of the shows will include a 43+” Redfish and a 42+” Snook as we take aim at these large fish in the shallows along St. Joseph Sound on light action tackle.
“Average Angler” T.V. – Brighthouse Networks – Channel 47 – @ 6 p.m.
August fishing can still be great as snook and redfish will often hold in the same areas as our larger redfish will move into the passes for the spawn. Our biggest snook of the summer have been caught over the last two moon phases with very strong moving tides that have triggered the bite. Many fish in the 40″ class have put smiling faces on clients. Stay tuned to Brighthouse Networks in September for the new season of “Average Angler” where Glen Pla catches a 40″+ redfish and a 40″+ snook to make a very exciting show.
The West Marine seminars for September will be as follows: Sept. 12th – Fall Fishing on Florida’s West Central Coast- Tactics for Nearshore Fishing along the reefs , Sept. 26th – Nearshore Grouper Fishing – Learn to catch that keeper grouper and not burn a lot of gas!
August can be a great time to catch some larger snook and redfish. The snook are holding around the passes as the summer spawn is under way. Bigger females are jumping on large pinfish during the fastest moving part of the tide. These gamefish are using the swift current to feed on bait getting flushed by. The concentration of snook along the beaches will hold until early October when they will make the transition toward Fall paterns. The large offshore breeder redfish are moving into position around jetties and nearshore rock structures where our west coast reds will spawn in September. Work the deeper waters with cutbait or big pinfish pegged with a weight to maintain the offering at the bottom.
Come join the World of Beer Fishing Team and other Professional Tarpon Tournament Series anglers at the Westchase -World of Beer on Friday – July 27th from 4pm- 7pm for a viewing party. The featured show on Sunshine Network is Week #5 of the PTTS where WOB took home the victory with a 174 pound tarpon. There will be giveaways from team sponsors and a raffle featuring a Tarpon Charter in Boca Grande on the WOB boat.
WOB Westchase- 9524 West Linebaugh Ave, Tampa, FL 33626
The Professional Tarpon Tournament Series Week #1 will be airing on Friday, June 29th at 5p.m. on Sunshine Network. Team World of Beer starts the season off with a bang! Stay tuned for viewing party info, as we will be traveling to different World of Beer stores with free giveaways along with drink specials at each event!!
PTTS #1 – Friday -6/29- 5:00 p.m. , Sunday -7/1- 10:00 p.m. , Tuesday -7/3- 4 p.m.