The great fishing of spring has arrived. The wintertime fishing was OK but I just felt that things were going to explode and have things be a lot better than they had been during the crux of “winter.” The winds of spring were a frustration for a lot of the month of March but things leveled out to where we were only fighting the wind a couple of days a week. The action was still decent on the windier days but definitely it was much more pleasant and fruitful on the lighter wind days. With all the species listed below, plus hordes of ladyfish, it has not been unusual for anglers on Strike Three Kayak Fishing trips to get to triple digits on number of fish caught.
Lures has been all we have used and the 12 Fathom 3-inch mullet has been the top lure. This lure on a 1/8 to 3/16-ounce jighead has accounted for a majority of the catches the past month. The 12 Fathom line is great line of soft plastic baits. The SlamR and Buzz Tail Shad are also lures used on a daily basis but with all the baitfish filtering back into Tampa Bay area waters, the Mullet is king. This lure, hovered and moved just above the bottom is an extraction tool. With the return of the pinfish, you will go through some lures but if you do not pull when you feel the “machine gun” tap-tap-tap strikes of pinfish, you will get a lot more use out of your lures.
Better late than never, cobia were encountered the past two weeks. Typical to the species, the ones that were hooked ate silver trout that were being brought up to the kayaks. They were very big fish, tough opponents on light tackle. Another species that did the same thing: blacktip sharks. It looks like it will be a very strong year for blacktip sharks. They are powerful, fun opponents but make sure you have a plan in place to keep your fingers away from their mouths.
The silver trout action has been good and their size has been impressive. Areas down toward the mouth of Tampa Bay had silvers that stayed until July last year. The trick is to keep lures down on the bottom. If you are not keeping the lures in contact with the bottom, you won’t catch any.
Flounder have been a big story. Ignored by most, the amount of flounder currently in the Tampa Bay area is the best I have seen since prior to the 2005 Red Tide outbreak. Several trips over 40 flounder were caught (with countless others that fell off jigs, something you just have to accept when flounder fishing). Again, the 12 Fathom Mullet has been tremendous and the flounder have been literally chasing the lures and attacking in many cases on an entire retrieve or until they are hooked. The SlamR and Buzz Tail cannot be overlooked as tremendous flounder baits. Numbers are great but a majority of the fish caught have been over the minimum size for possession. Note: My personal limit- I will not keep a 12 to 13-inch flounder. The amount of meat on a 13.5”+ flounder makes them worthwhile to keep. I like to let those meek, slim, little-flesh 12-inch fish go back to grow bigger.
Spanish mackerel activity is excellent. They are increasing in size every day. By kayak, the mackerel are being caught off the deeper grassbeds around the Skyway area and at pretty much every Gulf pass. Up your leader size to at least 30-pound fluorocarbon to prevent cutoffs. Move the lures at a more brisk pace than for your shallow water species targeting.
Pompano made appearances a few times this month. Joe Beckerman got into them. Paul caught four on the Bling Mullet. A favorite of mine to bring home for dinner, all indications are that this should be another good year for pompano.
The big two: Trout and Redfish- this action has also been very good. I believe that the action for both of these species will peak and be excellent throughout the month of May. The numbers of 13 to 15-inch trout tells me that the Fall action will be exceptional for upper-slot trout. Redfish have been in decent numbers. Odd for this time of year, John Veil and Mike ran into a nice collection of over-slot reds at the end of their trip this week. They were spooky and on the move, but they were reds I would usually only expect to see in August or September.
Topwater action is notably better. I like the Top Dog Junior 18 for one of my all-time favorite choices. Any lure in the Mirrolure line is an excellent choice but we have had excellent success with the Mirromullet, Mirromullet XL and the Dog Series of lures. The break in topwater action that is notable in wintertime is over. The return of finger mullet is usually the key and that is something that is happening on our local flats.
April 25 is Kayak Fishing Skool! The topic is: Beginners to Kayak Fishing. If you have someone who is interested in kayak fishing, this is the annual session that concentrates on the basics for beginners. If you have a friend who may be interested in the sport, you can bring them to any session but this is the “101” session for beginners. As usual, there will be a raffle at the end of the session, brought to you by Strike Three Kayak Fishing sponsors.
As always: Be careful out there!