Things are really heating up quick with the mild winter we had. With our only real cold “snap” happening around Christmas time, we can expect to see a strong push from the snook as they work their way to the spawning grounds they’ll spend the next few months at. With the water temperatures in the 70’s, things are really starting to fire off.
The snook fishing is 100% tidal dependent and especially good around the new moon cycles. Afternoons present temperatures a couple degrees warmer than the morning and can be enough to really trigger a bite. Personally, I like to throw Puglisi’s at them due to their silent entry but anything that’s properly presented will usually get some sort of attention. Due to the nature of the beast, being an ambush predator, it’s important to try and create a reactionary scenario. The fish either needs to be moving, entailing a lead and wait followed by a fast strip or upon immediate entry of the fly to a stationary fish followed by a fast, hop and stop strip, paying close attention to the body language of the fish.
Redfishing has been good this month but is progressively getting more challenging as water temperatures soar and the water clarity naturally gets worse as we transition into summer. The early morning lows are still providing a good opportunity to sight fish tailers and has them concentrated in areas we can target them before the disco ball comes out in the mangroves on the high tides. Full moons can be especially tough as they’re sitting around digesting all day making them hyper sensitive to any subtle changes in their environment. Look for them to be in larger groups around the moons.
West Central Florida Restorative
Fishing in and around Tampa bay has been on the decline for the past couple years following the red tide in 2021. It used to be a common occurrence to see a group of a hundred redfish and now I feel lucky to see ten together. Unfortunately, after 3 millions pounds of fish were removed and a small 6 month closure, everything was reopened as if nothing happened. Now we’re paying the price and nothing in the bay area appears to be improving.
West central Florida is in trouble after a red tide that took a toll that none of us have ever seen. The red tide was so thick in some areas that it would prevent sunlight from reaching the floor therefore killing the sea grass. An algae bloom of this magnitude took such a toll that it impacted fish stocks from Sarasota bay all the way up to Tarpon Springs and all of Tampa Bay. Recovery time is a necessity for the preservation of our resource and with a re-open to harvest all inshore species, it won’t be possible.
The red tide in 2018 created by the blue-green algae dump out of the Caloosahatchee river from Lake Okeechobee was/is a catastrophic event. Following the event, FWC closed the harvest of any inshore species for what seemed like 5 years. This gave the ecosystem a chance to rebound/recover and the fishery now is doing better because of the closure. There is without a doubt, a larger problem at hand, being water quality and the whole state is feeling it. Let’s let nature do her thing.
Please SHARE and SIGN. The next FWC Commission meeting is 2/21 and 2/22/23 location TBD.