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Waether permitting, fishing is excellent all over

Posted Apr 19, 2012 by Frank Sargeant

Updated Apr 19, 2012 at 05:29 PM

With severe thunderstorms possible both days of the weekend, it might be better to forget offshore fishing – if you can during prime kingfish time. Big kings are being caught all along the west central Florida coast, most by slow-trolling big live baits on stinger rigs, and that bite will actually be even better in choppy water, so if weather allows and you’ve got a big, seaworthy boat, go for it.

There are all the Spanish anybody could want both on the near-shore artificial reefs and inside lower Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor – just look for the bird tornadoes and crank fast-moving jigs or small spoons through the breaking fish, or anchor up on the spoil bars along the ship channels and chum.

Captain Ray Markham reports excellent catch-and-release snook fishing in lower Tampa Bay. The fish are in pre-spawn mode and will head to the passes soon, probably on the full moon in May and continuing into June. As always, live scaled sardines are the top bait, but skillful use of jerkbaits, swimbaits and topwaters will also connect. Markham’s clients have gotten some nice flounder in 8-14 feet in hard bottom areas of lower Tampa Bay on CAL jigs with shad tails. Tarpon are around the Skyway, Markham said, and can be jumped on live threadfins; .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

In fresh water, Captain Sean Rush continues to wear out the trophy bass at Rodman with catches of 30 to 40 per day, lots in the 5-pound class and plenty of 7-pounders and up, including an occasional 10-pounder, all on big wild shiners. Rush says the lake is nearing full pool after the winter drawdown, but the fish just keep on biting;

At Okeechobee, Captain Mike Shellen said the bluegills will spawn on the new moon this weekend – any hard-bottom areas around vegetation in 1-3 feet are likely, just look for the pie-plate sized beds. Live worms and grass shrimp are the top bait, but fly-rodders can catch plenty on tiny sponge spiders, poppers or black dry flies. Bass fishing is dependable for fish of 1-3 pounds, but the lunker bite of earlier has ended with the spawn. Topwaters are effective early, Shellen said, soft jerkbaits after mid-morning. Lake level is 12 feet and falling – carefull navigation is required in many areas;

Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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