After the cool winds and low tides of last month, I’m looking forward to transitioning into spring. Although, it’ll still be windy and we’ll probably see at least one good cold front, both the air and water temperature should improve. As a result, our fish will get more active. Also, in any bay and on every flat, keep an eye out for mullet schools as they can help us find fish. Because, mullet stir up lots of bottom sediment, game fish will hang underneath looking for shrimp, crabs, and crustaceans.
Below Punta Gorda on the east side, snook and redfish will begin moving from the backcountry creek systems towards outside shorelines. I’ll start about two or three shorelines in and work my way out. As the month progresses, they’ll stage further out. Across the harbor, the West Wall can really fish well and it’s not unusual to see groups of redfish and snook making their way south out of the Myakka River. From Cattle Dock to Cape Haze Point can all be good.
Around Cape Haze Point along the bar outside Turtle Bay can also be good. Toward months end, it’s not unusual to see snook that have pushed all the way down the bar system to Cayo Pelau at the bottom of Gasparilla Sound. Here, the grass flats adjacent to Devil Fish Key and across the harbor at Jug Creek at the northern end of Pine Island Sound are where the first schools of pilchards or scaled sardines will show up marking the true beginning of our spring season. For the most part, all grass flats in close proximity to passes are good. Subsequently, Lemon Bay and Gasparilla and Pine Island Sound are always a good bet.
Right now, as water temperatures are still moderate, spotted sea trout are as active as they’ll be all year. For sure, they can be more cooperative than snook and redfish and some of the largest trout are caught this time of year. Just inside the bar along the lower end of the west wall holds good numbers. As a result, it’s a great area to target all three species.
The sheepshead bite is still going strong. Dock, pier, and trestle structures are best. From land, it’s hard to beat the Placida trestle. In the harbor, spanish mackerel should be all over any marker. Along the bar systems that surround the harbor pompano can be found and the hard bottom off Cape Haze Point is one of my favorite spots.