If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to break out the fishing poles and prepare for what is sure to be an action-packed season of fishing!
Spring is right around the corner and signs of the season are all around the bay. Birds crashing baitfish out in the middle of the bay is a sure sign that Spanish mackerel will soon show up along the beaches, near the piers and around inlets. Small, shiny lures with erratic actions and high-speed retrieves are sure to get you hooked up with one of these lightning-fast fish. The mackerel are easy to spot when they’re feeding on the surface because they often leap from the water as they devour baitfish. If they’re not showing themselves, then it’s best to look for bird or baitfish activity and troll around the area until you find the fish.
In the St. Andrews Pass, around the jetties and other deeper structures, we will begin to see an abundance of sheepshead stacking up in their yearly congregation. I prefer to fish them with small blue crabs or fiddler crabs on light tackle or a live shrimp with a light lead. Getting the bait in front of your target is much easier during the start of a tide change when the water is moving slowly. Once the tide gets to fully running, I typically switch gears and go after something else in slower water or change techniques and target different fish. Other species you can catch with similar techniques around the inlet this time of the year are redfish, black drum and pompano.
There is no shortage of fish on the flats. Redfish schools are abundant on most flats throughout the bay; however, they have not all been in the mood to participate in my fish catching adventures. Honestly, I’ve had much better success working small groups of fish or singles that have been laid up or cruising the shallows along the shoreline. The big schools have been extremely skittish, due in part to incredibly clear water and low water levels. As a result, it will be much easier to let those fish come to you instead of trying to stalk the school. Soft plastic shad-shaped lures are getting the job done when the opportunity arises.
As always, if you have questions about what’s biting, how to catch them or want to book a trip, give me a call or shoot me an email. Tight lines!