Lower Tampa Bay

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By Neil Taylor, www.strikethreekayakfishing.com

The weather has been workable, for the most part.   Ultimately,  I have not spent as much time in this part of the Bay than I had been mostly because there was enough red tide in the water to push the fish out of my favorite locations.    But I have made some trips to neighboring waters with success.

Flounder are mostly gone for the remainder of winter but don’t fret, when they come back this spring, it will be an amazing option for Tampa Bay again.  The past two years were strong with 2014 the best flounder fishing I have ever seen.   Watch for their return in the spring.     The Bonus Species for the Captain Mel Classic, they migrate out this time of year but they will be back before too long and they should be in great numbers and size.

Trout action finally got better for big trout in the past few weeks but you have to find them at the right time.   Let’s face it:  You have to find them first.  The locations I found trout “feeding” are areas that are a longer paddle and a greater distance away from Tampa Bay than I usually fish.  That is typical of winter, especially a harsher winter.   We caught a lot of big trout during this past stretch.  Most of how we did it was on the 12 Fathom Slam R on 1/8-ounce Mission Fishin’ jigheads.  See below for an opportunity.

Kayak Fishing Skool is February 25, 2016 6:30PM at Bill Jackson’s in Pinellas Park.  The topic this month:  Speckled Trout.   A Classic species, come learn how to be more successful catching big trout.

Redfish have been pretty decent, again, if you can find them.   We encountered a good pack of mid slot redfish last week but only able to get one to eat a lure.   Clean, clear, cold water:  Tough time to get close to a species so leery of humankind, you need to make the adjustments and try to make the longest casts you can to them.

The sheepshead targeting has been a weird mix of other species.   Red tide moved the sheepshead from where I would normally target them.   Set up to catch black drum and sheepshead the sharks were piled into a small cut.   None caught on two trips in the previous week it was one after another for an hour.   The seawalls, and any rocky structure going into the water really, have sheepshead.   There are some good fish but there are thousands of “next year’s fish.” Those ten to twelve inch porgies are next year’s convicts.

To get detailed reports, check The Skyway Report on capmel.com.   Written by Paul Bristow every week, he keeps you on the heartbeat of the Skyway bite.  Get out and enjoy the easy action on the Skyway Piers!  Thank you Paul for dedicated, detailed reports EVERY SEVEN DAYS!

In a battle that is never really over: The great work of FWC officers to target felony netters and keep an eye on other recreational offenders has led to better fishing for us all.  Their continued efforts to catch felony netters are making the south shore region return as a great fishery again.   But help them out:  Keep your eyes peeled for illegal activity and make a call if you see poaching, 888-404-FWCC (3922).  Your tips will help make cases and you could be eligible for a reward.  The fishery survives the pressure of poaching, a lot of anglers and just continues to be a great location to go.

As always: Be careful out there!

Neil Taylor
Owner and guide: 
www.strikethreekayakfishing.com
(Cell) 727-692-6345  LivelyBaits@aol.com
Owner and site administrator:  www.capmel.com
Co-host: Outdoor Fishing Adventures, 8 to 9AM Sundays on 1040 “The Team”

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Neil Taylor
Full time kayak fishing guide, Neil was an advocate for conservation since before the time he started guiding. Outdoor writer, speaker and radio show host, Neil connected closely with Captain Mel Berman and did many positives with Mel to promote ethical angling. After Mel passed away, Neil managed www.capmel.com and eventually became that web site’s owner.