Capt. Josh Fritz, 352-345-9304: Capt. Josh reports that he’s focused on tarpon. Fishing the flats north of Hudson to Hernando Beach, he says the fish are around in good numbers. They are taking live crabs, pinfish or sardines. He’s found them as shallow as 4 feet of water. In another week, he expects to the see the numbers of fish increase. Look for reds around the rocks of islands, running with the schools of mullet. The outgoing tide is best, with fish taking live pinfish and sardines well. Nice-sized trout are hanging around some of the same rocky bottom, as well as troughs and potholes on the grass flats.
Capt. Mike Manning, 727-243-8918: Capt. Mike provided an update on the tarpon fishing in Boca Grande, and all the news is good. The fish are stacked in the big pass, but the hill-tide fishing over the weekend was great, with lots of fish put into the air. There are fish on the beach outside the pass, but not always and not always in great numbers. Live crabs are tops, though pinfish have taken some fish. The sharks are around and a few have made meals of hooked tarpon. His fishing pals are reporting a good bite at Tampa Bay around the Sunshine Skyway and farther into the bay.
Tackle shop roundup
One Stop Bait and Tackle, 727-842-5610: Joe says offshore anglers have been testing the waters for the opening of gag grouper season June 1. The fish are around in good numbers and everyone is expecting a good season. Inshore, there are plenty of reds around rocks, oyster bars and flooded mangrove lines between the Cotee and Anclote rivers. Trout fishing on the grass flats has been good, and they are running very large on average. The grass along St. Joseph Sound has been particularly productive. Snook are on the island beaches at Anclote Key, Three Rooker Bar and the barrier islands south. Sheepshead are congregating in the creeks and canals.
The Tackle Box, 727-819-3783: Buck reports anglers are enjoying the bite. The water is no too hot yet and everything is biting well. Reds are bunching up on the flats and in all the back-bays. Trout are on the grass flats and snook are on the outside points and beaches. Buck says it’s a good time to fish and enjoy things before it gets too hot. Offshore anglers have been doing well on hogfish in 50 feet of water. It takes a lot of live shrimp to have a good day of it, as losing bait to sneaky hogs is the norm. Offshore anglers are saying the gag grouper population appears to be strong, and they expect good fishing when the season opens June 1.
Tarpon Trading Company, 727-937-1488: Larry says a few anglers are reporting tangling with tarpon, which recently showed up on the area flats. One anglers brought a 5-foot-long fish to boat-side and lost another just off the fishing pier at the north Anclote Park. Others have reported fish rolling at Three Rooker Bar. The snook are on the beach at Anclote Key, but many are finding the fish seem to have a case of lockjaw. The best bet is getting out early before boat traffic turns the fish off. Live grunts have been the top bait for the big beach spawning females. The season is closed, so catch and release. Big cobia are cruising the beach. Fishing recently, Larry spotted one pushing 5 feet in length. He put a bait out and the fish turned on it, but didn’t take it. His gear was too light, and he figures the big fish would have likely spooled him, and the fish swimming off may have been for the best. Fred Howard Park has reopened and anglers are finding snook and reds at the causeway bridges. They’ve also taken some big trout along the causeway. Dunedin Causeway has been giving up big trout, as well.