Fishing in Tampa Bay in April has got to be one of our hottest months. We are finally in the summer solstice pattern and it’s a beautiful thing as every species begins to become accessible. More tarpon are entering the bay as things really warm up, snook are in full transition mode, and redfish have been tailing great on the big afternoon low tides.
Night fishing has been on fire around the New moon phases but can also be really good if you plan your trip around the moon rise/set times. Starting before and ending as it rises and after it sets is called fishing smart if you’re going at night! Small light colored baitfish flies tied on no bigger than a four are the ticket for snook. The bait they’re eating is almost microscopic and a smaller hook would work but the debate would be the sacrifice of strength and of course, missed fish. Weed guards are a necessity as their name changes to, “Dock Guard.” Lights that have really good current flow will not only typically have more fish but it also puts the fish in “conveyor belt mode.” They’re feeding more on reaction than decision.
The best places to start targeting snook during the day are going to be places that receive the most tidal flow or just adjacent. They’re going to be grouping up before they spawn and can be red hot on one tide and ice cold on the other. Afternoon outgoings can bring a couple of degrees of warmer water than the morning incoming tide because it’s had a chance to cook all day. Fly anglers have a tough time here due to the amount of eyes, their ability to feel, and situation alone. Light tackle guys couldn’t have it made any better with a live well full of bait!
Redfish are going to be really accessible in the afternoon/evening around moon phases. We get a huge low tide that forces them off the shorelines and out onto the open flats where fly fisherman can have their way. Weightless Shrimp patterns or Puglisi flies work extremely well and sometimes if the sun is low enough, a gurgler. Light tackle anglers will have to fish weedless because of the thick turtle grass. As the temperatures get hot, redfish will seek shade or deeper water in the middle of the day and if they can, tidal flow.
Tarpon are going to gorge for the next couple moon phases before they head out off the beaches for their annual migration. Mass populations will be where the bait is being around bridges and deeper water structures. Their preferred forage can change instantly from one tide to the next. Your eyes are your best tools for figuring it out!