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Flats’ fishing on Tampa Bay is in full swing. Snook, Redfish and Trout make up the Big 3 or Grand Slam on Tampa Bay inshore waters. Bait and water temperatures are finally where it needs to be and with this weeks high tides the bite should be awesome.

To increase your success rate you need to first fill the live well with whitebaits. Filling the live well with frisky baits is important; you will most likely need hundreds for chumming so gather plenty. Chumming both fires up fish then keeps them fired up.

This week’s high tides of 2.5’ late morning will have the snook up into the Mangrove Islands chasing bait. As the tide turns and starts to run out the snook turn on! With crabs and all kinds of goodies being flushed out from the Mangroves it triggers a feeding response. Snook are ambush predators and will set up on points and breaks waiting for bait to drift by. Be ready for explosive action the moment the bait hits the water. Most battles with snook are won or lost in the first minute as they brutes will look to get deep back into the Mangroves.

The same tides will have redfish up on the flats and adjacent to Mangrove shorelines. Oyster bars along the Mangroves are perfect habitat for redfish schools. White baits free lined or under a popping cork works great. Cut baits can also be killer on redfish. White baits, threadfins and pinfish all work. Local canals and docks are also home to many a redfish. As with snook take care when approaching redfish, spooking the school can shut the bite down for hours.

Spotted sea trout round out the Big 3 and are the most plentiful and easiest to catch. Lush grass flats with clear water 2-6’ will more often than not hold trout. Live shrimp under a cork keeps the bait in the target zone and out of the grass. Free lined white baits. Soft plastic jigs bounced along the bottom can be deadly. Top water and suspending hard baits are great especially when targeting larger gator trout. Trout are common 14-18” with fish over 20” a nice fish on lower Tampa Bay.

Understanding your target will pay dividends and help you achieve the slam!

Captain Steven Markovich

Tampa Bay Fishing Charters | On The Mark Charters

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