This will be my first fishing report for the Old Salt Newsletter and I am truly thankful to be a part of this wonderful organization moving forward. I hope my extensive time on the water leads to reports that offer some insight of what you can expect, as well as tips and tricks,that will help you have more success when you get the chance to toss a line.
May has panned out to be everything we were hoping for, as summer begins to arrive!With everyone being cooped up inside over the past few weeks, you can continue expecting to dodge more boats than you’re probably used to ever seeing on the weekends. The steady number of boats on the water would put our usual Memorial Day and Fourth of July crowds to shame. This has caused finding open water inshore a little more trying. Although, it is refreshing to see so many people out fishing and enjoying time on the water in this difficult time we are all experiencing.
Water temps are into the mid 70’s and the inshore fish have made their way out of the backwaters, creeks, and rivers into the bay and onto the beaches. The fish that gets everyone fired up this time of year have OFFICIALLY ARRIVED, on their summer migration north.
It’s time to dust off your 8k reels and big inshore combos to target the Silver King for these few fleeting months. As the water has reached that magical 75 degree mark, Tarpon have shown up in large numbers throughout Tampa Bay, congregating in large schools around the focal points of the bay, including the Skyway, the beaches, Egmont Key, Johns Pass, and into Clearwater. Targeting these fish takes the right amount of timing, patience, and presentation. You can find success trying your luck at the Skyway Bridge fishing under the main beams, or beams closest to the fishing piers, in the shadow lines where the threadfins are ample. Fish the strong outgoing tides and try to scoop some crabs floating through the passes and bridges and then anchor or spot lock on the up-current side of the bridge. Open your bail and driftthreadfins and crabs with the current to the opposing shadow line and hold on tight. I like to get the rods ready and begin to toss cut pieces off the back of the boat, creating a slick, and drifting the baits through it. This is a simple and tried-but-true way to hook up on one of these monsters.
Aside from the recent tropical weather in the Atlantic that brought days of strong winds that stirred up the Gulf, the Snook, Redfish, and Trout fishing has been stellar.
Now is the time of year to not only start fishing the passes but also to start looking down at the forewash (swashes) of the beach where the waves break for the big female snook, who are usually accompanied by a group of smaller maleson the hunt for their next meal. This can be an especially fun catch on artificials, including DOA C.A.L. Shad, MirrOLure, and Z-man Paddletails in any light color swim bait, close to white or with a subtle pop like a colored jig head or tail.
Redfish have been rooting around on the flats in the lower tides of the morning and pushing into the mangroves or docks as the tide rises and the sun heats up. Trout have remained steady in the deeper potholes and lush grass flats that hold a lot of bait. I’ve found that trout tend to group in similar sizes, so if you’re weeding through small 12-15 inch fish try moving a foot or two deeper into the 5-6 footranges to find the bigger ones.
Good luck on the water!
Hi – I’m Captain Skylar Wilks and I am a full-time Tampa Bay Inshore Guide, residing in Madeira Beach. I grew up spending my weekends and summers fishing with my Grandparents who live across the street from the Madeira Beach Marina. In 2011, I moved a bit further south to Fort Myers and attended Florida Gulf Coast University, with a scholarship to play Division 1 soccer. When I wasn’t playing soccer, I was spending my time learning the waters and fishing in Sanibel, Estero Bay, and the Naples area. In 2015, I graduated with a degree in Business Management and moved back to Madeira Beach to launch my fishing business, Inspired Fishing Charters.