March 2015 has been smokin hot temperature wise in the Tampa Bay area and the fishing has been just as hot. Water temps have been screaming up towards 80 degrees in the inland waters ways waking the slumbering snook. They have been chewing well as many fish are beginning to leave their winter wholes to make their way out to the passes and beaches. Having white bait, aka greenies, has been the one ingredient that has snapped them out of their long winter hiatus.
Having large amounts of white bait is impossible with kayak fishing. I grin every time I see a charter boat captain pull up and chum 4o white bait at a time to fire up the fish, while I have at best 40 live greenies total in my arsenal. But what kayak fishermen lack in bait capacity, they make up for with stealth and approach.
My Malibu Stealth 14 has a nice feature of a built in live well center tank that makes hauling bait easy on long paddles, and on short paddles, I load up as much as humanly possible by dragging the old yellow and white “bait bucket”, sometimes three or four if needed. Because the bait often isn’t found where I want to fish, I utilize my truck and homemade cooler live wells to load up on the bait off the beaches and haul them in aerated tanks to my nearest snook lairs.
The reds have been also eager to eat this month near mangrove spoil islands and residential docks, with my best luck coming on cut bait, especially lady fish. Cut bait for kayak fishing is the bomb for obvious reasons, easy to keep fresh, haul and store in a zip lock bag in the cooler. I keep track of where I can catch lady fish in my journals because if there are reds in the area, they will seldom turn it down. Fishing with cut bait may not be “glamorous” but it is effective.
The beach water temps are perfect for kings right now but it seems it is heating up too soon, too quick. The spring kingfish run is still up in the air, but I will be putting in my time trying to hook a smooker off the swim boueys of our local beaches once the winds lay down. Grunts, mangos, sheepies have been biting well on the near shore reefs and as the water clears up, this action should only take off with more grouper, flounder, cobia and mackerel.
Lastly, I was blessed to be able to take to really epic trip this March with my Dad to Weedon Island Nature Preserve. We tackled the mangrove tunnel trails and shallow water estuaries to sight fish for snook and reds. My dad is the sole reason I have my passion for fishing and to be able to guide him to such a unique place as Weedon Island was special. Oh yeah… my dad is in his 70’s too, but you would never know that by his paddle endurance and never give up attitude. I was ready to call it a day and get back, but he wanted to keep going and make it to one more spot. We saw more big snook and reds cruising the flats and mangrove shore lines than we caught, but just sharing that experience with him is something I will never forget.