"Angling may be said to be so like the mathematics that it can never be fully learned." -- Izaak Walton
What a difference two weeks makes for the fishing in our area. Water temperatures are on the rise with the consistent warm weather we have been experiencing. There is also an explosion of bait fish now both in the Gulf and in the intracoastal waterway. All this adds up to very active fishing.
Area piers are seeing Spanish mackerel moving in towards shore on the gulf side as well as the intracoastal. Most are being caught using a bobber and tipped with live shrimp or greenbacks. Another of our new arrivals is the cobia. These great fighters have showed up in the last week around the piers and docks on the intracoastal. They can often be seen traveling with schools of rays. Of the three we saw pulled in on the piers next to the Bait House, two were caught on live shrimp and one hit a jig tipped with a Berkley Gulp shrimp. Cobia seldom travel alone, so if you hit one there is more than likely another very close by. Along with the cobia, rays are being seen and caught frequently in the area. Snook are plentiful lately especially in the shallow water around docks and marinas. They are hitting live and frozen shrimp, pinfish, greenback, and even some squid. Sheephead are still a hot commodity showing up around docks, boats, and area reefs. Most are being caught with live shrimp, frozen sand fleas, live fiddler crabs, and shucked clams. Whitings are still in the area waters and are being caught right off the bottom using shrimp and squid. Flounders are turning up more often lately especially on the sand edges of sea grass. They have been caught on just about any kind of bait. One of the fishing hot spots lately is the area in and around the Honeymoon Island. Reports from area anglers say the Redfish are so thick that their tails are seen above the water near the shoreline. They are hitting on everything from live shrimp to cut ladyfish.
Out in the Gulf, the white grunt are still plentiful and very large stringers can be seen coming back to the marina daily. While red groupers can now be taken in international waters, most anglers seem to be waiting for the first of April to head out fishing for the large gag groupers. Some of the area’s reefs are coming alive with large populations of tuna, hogfish, mangrove snappers, gray snappers, and even a few lane snappers. Several local anglers have told us that the lane snapper is the best tasting snapper out there. Most of these caught have hit on live shrimp and pinfish.
Please help keep our piers and shorelines clean for the next anglers. Remember that the Bait House has dock access for your boat and we can always be reached on your marine radio to check on bait availability. New tackle and gear arrive weekly. We also have rental rods and reels as well as aerated bait buckets for your day on the water. Thanks to those that email at Jim2988@msn.com and as always, Good Luck Out There!
Jim can be found daily at the Bait House - Clearwater Municipal Marina, phone 446-8134
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