It is a fantastic time of year to fish in the St Petersburg area. This diverse fishery has something for everyone as we enter the warmer months. From Old Tampa Bay to the intercoastal waterway and out on the beaches fishing for a variety of species is productive this time of year. The areas most popular game fish, redfish and trout are very active this time of year, look for them on grass flats and around oyster bars throughout the area.
Snook are many anglers’ favorite fish to target this time of year. These hard fighting fish, up to 40 inches long, can be found across the area near ambush points (bars, points, structure, docks, etc.) and in the troughs along the area’s beaches. Snook prefer strong currents, so it may be useful to specifically target them during the biggest tidal swings. If you can, catch and use bait fish in the area and drift them down current with a natural presentation to structures that should be holding fish.
Another fun technique is to work topwater near structures, such as mangrove edges or man-made structures, around dawn and dusk or at night. Although snook season closes May 1-Aug. 31, snook are very active in the area and continue to be a blast to catch.
Springtime is a great season to catch huge black drum on the flats. Anglers should attempt to locate schools of big drum by heading out to the flats in 2-4 feet of water near oyster or clam bars at low tide, and plan to fish the incoming tide. Once you find the drum, fishing dead bait or small crabs on the bottom is the most effective technique. This includes dead shrimp, cut blue crab, ladyfish, and squid.
These baits should be rigged on a circle hook, typically 2/0 to 5/0 depending on the bait size. Black drum will also eat lures that imitate shrimp, crabs, or small bait fish, but you need to present it directly in front of them and work it slowly across the bottom towards the incoming fish.
If you have the gear suitable for tarpon, make sure to take it with you on trips this time of year. Keep an eye out for rolling tarpon near beaches, passes, and rivers. If you see fish, try to set up ahead of the school or in the area and put out some live bait, either freelined or on a cork, or cast some larger lures in front of the moving fish, such as big suspending twitch baits, 5-7 inch flukes, or large paddle tails.
Captain Kevin Walton, with Non-Stop Fishing Charters, has years of knowledge and experience fishing the area around St. Petersburg. He has mastered the seasonal patterns and has a proven track record of success with clients. If you are interested in learning more about the area, now is a time to book an inshore fishing trip with Captain Kevin.