March 30, 2017
Spring is a transitional time. Water temperatures are warming, we have sunlight later in our day, and the moon’s influence on tides increases. All that and other factors mean one thing is certain: Marine life is becoming more active, and better fishing is on the way. In fact, it’s happening now.
So as you reach for your fly rod or fishing pole, keep in mind these early spring tips to ensure you have a more productive trip.
Of course, most anglers know fish are plenty active in low-light conditions such as sunrise and sunset. But cooler water temps can make fish sluggish. It’s not a bad strategy to wait for the sun to get higher and warm the water. That’s when the fish will get more active. So go ahead and hit the snooze button during spring.
Pick your spots
Related to the water temp is location. The first places where the water will warm up is over darker bottoms (they absorb more of the sun’s rays and warm the water) or shallow flats (less water, quicker to warm up). Many fish, such as snook, remain in warmer, tight backcountry spots and dark-bottomed residential canals during the cooler months. But they move out onto the flats, and around passes and bridges as the water warms.
Study the tide charts
Fish generally are more active feeders when there is moving water that flushes baitfish right to them. The rise and set of the moon is just as important as sunrise and sunset, as the incoming and outgoing tides are influenced by our nearest celestial body. These tides are predictable to just about the minute, so study a tide chart (typically found at a local bait shop), and fish around these times of great water movement. Lower than average tides reveal the deeper pockets and depressions, where fish hold. Your homework will pay off later.
Watch the weather
Spring can mean unstable weather. Rain, along with wind and lightning, can move in quickly. Watch the local forecast and radar, and survey the skies frequently so danger does not sneak up on you.
Baitfish tend to be smaller in early spring than they will be this summer. Anglers should attempt to “match the hatch.” In other words, fish with lures and baits that most resemble the size and look of the baitfish in the area that you are fishing. Right now, baitfish are starting to populate intracoastal flats as well as gulf-side bridges and passes. That means predatory fish such as snook will be in these passes also. Trout are stalking the deeper grassy areas where young baitfish hang out. And redfish are still in decent-sized schools in upper Tampa Bay.
This is an excellent tie to target all three species for a Tampa Bay slam.