Spring training: Part 2

Reel Time
Kellan Hunt holds a 28-inch trout that he caught while fishing with his grandfather, Capt. Scott Moore. For more on this fishing prodigy go to youtube.com. - Submitted

Last week we discussed some of the exciting opportunities that spring offers. This week I wanted to share some of the special prospects this particular season presents anglers. I was fortunate to get some great information from local fishing legend and guru Capt. Scott Moore.

Moore reports that the cooler water temperatures we are experiencing have been great for fishing. One of the main things that should help you catch more fish is that cooler water temperatures translates into finding fish in shallow water. Moore says that trout and snook in particular are foraging in water as shallow as 12 inches. Live bait is relatively easy to come by and very effective, but anglers who can’t find bait or don’t want to should be able to score using top water plugs and flies, according to Moore.

A word of caution on plugs, in particular the treble hooks that adorn them. Be sure to bend down the barbs. You’ll be glad you did because it will make fish and you or a fellow angler easier to release. Besides barbs aren’t needed if you keep your line tight when fighting a fish. Jigs also will be effective with scented tails being a good option. These artificials will catch snook and trout and are also effective for most every fish that swims local waters including redfish. If you’re angling for redfish don’t forget an old standby, you’re angling for redfish, don’t forget an old standby, the gold spoon. Spoons are particularly good for fishing shallow water because they’re weedless and won’t get hung up in the grass beds.

Moore also suggests live bait, including shrimp, under a popping cork. For those anglers not familiar with popping corks, the sound and action of the cork attracts reds as well as other species. When they investigate, the bait is presented to them on the proverbial silver plate. I’ve even had reds strike the popping corks.

Moore has also been catching some nice flounder, including a 25-inch flatty”late last week. He suggests anglers concentrate their efforts on the sand adjacent to a healthy grass flat. Live bait and jigs are good options.

Tarpon have been on lots of people’s minds lately with quite a few fish (for this early in the season) showing up along the beaches. In my experience it will be later in the season (mid-May) before there is any reliable tarpon fishing in local waters, but those willing to put in the time have a good chance at seeing a few tarpon.

My advice would be for anglers to station (anchor) their boat on an edge along the beach or a sand bar and be patient. If you notice a fish or a school taking a track either deeper or more shallow, reposition the boat. Otherwise stay put. The key will be to be prepared. Have rod and bait or fly ready for a quick presentation.

Besides the bay, the Gulf would be an excellent place to prospect. Spanish mackerel, kingfish, big Jack crevalle and cobia are all on the move and will show up on area beaches in the spring. Target them around schools of bait or any structure. One great place to explore would be the dredge hole off Anna Maria Island. This trough, dug during a dredging project, will concentrate bait and gamefish. The shallows along the beaches are a good place to find schools of foraging Jacks. A well-placed cast with most any bait or artificial will be effective, but I prefer top water plugs and flies. Whatever you fish for and wherever you go don’t miss out on some of the best spring weather we’ve had in a long time. Good fishing!