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West Central Florida Fishing Forecast

This article is printed with permission from, and originally published by Outdoor Sportsman Group, at floridasportsman.com. Read the original article here

From Captain Ray Markham

Weather plays an important part in fishing for a couple of reasons. First, and foremost, getting on the water in rough or extreme weather can be dangerous, but in terms of the fish, weather extremes can move fish, turn the bite off, or turn a bite on. Knowing what the weather is going to be ahead of time can allow you to prepare for conditions and also make you a more productive angler. Of course, there are weather extremes that are just plain dangerous and should be avoided. But being prepared for the anticipated conditions can allow you to fish where the fish will be according to those conditions.


Opportunities for getting offshore this week were once again limited due to high winds and seas. Some of the bigger boats made it out but had to deal with dirty water conditions with some churned up seas. Cut baits that provided a good scent trail got the attention of some nice red grouper in 110-to 125-feet of water west of Bradenton. The soak time was longer than usual but cut squid and sardines in combination provided some action. Mangrove snapper were caught in the 4-to 6-pound range.

It appears that anglers headed offshore may have a window of opportunity this Saturday. Some reasonably good weather may be in store. By Sunday night we could be in for some more rain, but winds and seas may lay down long enough to get offshore and do some fishing.

Spanish mackerel are filtering in on nearshore artificial reefs and along the beaches. Look for some action around the major and minor solunar periods coming off this week’s full moon. Flashy spoons like the Eppinger Dardevle, Rex Spoon or Clark Spoon Squid will do well trolled around the Egmont Key Ship’s Channel. Look for feeding or diving birds to show bait pods that Spaniards will be feeding on. Casting spoons like the Diamond Jig and an assortment of soft plastic jigs worked quickly will also do the trick.


Fishing took a slow upturn in the action this week. Some better catches of redfish were reported around John’s Pass, Honeymoon Island, Caladesi, and Rocky Creek in upper Tampa Bay and along the south shore from Ruskin to Joe Bay.

Capt. Rick Grassett reported some action on Spanish mackerel, snook, and bluefish on flies south of Sarasota near Gasparilla Sound. Some spotty red tide still exists down south but the bite still remains a little off but steady for anglers covering some water.

Some of the warmer deep water canals and the backwaters of Bishop’s Harbor, Terra Ceia Bay, and the Manatee River are producing some nice catches of trout, a few flounder, and some snook for anglers tossing CAL Jigs with Shad tails and Curly tails. Jerk baits like the MirrOlure Provoker are taking some of the largest trout.

The north end of Sarasota Bay has seen some action for anglers fishing MirrOlure 37MR MirrOdines. This new largest size seems to be true to its smaller cousin, the 17MR and is destined to put some meat on the table when this water temperature begins to rise. Look for some action in the afternoons on this lure.

Sheepshead fishing has been excellent for anglers fishing the rock piles and debris off the Skyway Fishing Piers. These fish are getting fat. Some will spawn on this full moon and the remainder will probably spawn on next month’s full moon. Fiddler crabs and sand fleas have been the top natural baits.


World class crappie fishing on Lake Okeechobee.It’s time to pound the water with some lizards! Reports from anglers fishing Lake’s Tarpon and Seminole have been similar. Bedding bass around the perimeter of these lakes have been holding some nice fish. Soft plastic baits like lizards and snakes have taken the largest fish this week. Look for that action to continue this weekend along with some speckled perch.

Crappie fishing has taken off in Tarpon and in the Walsingham Reservoir. Small spinnerbaits like Beetlespins and Roadrunners as well as Hal Fly Jigs have been the ticket.A consistent largemouth bass bite has produced some giants, as seen here.

Capt. Angie Douthit of www.southfloridabassfishing.com down in Lake Okeechobee says the bass and crappie fishing is on fire. Both species are spawning down there and some giants of each are being caught. Give Capt. Angie a call and she’ll put you on fish.

‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

Capt. Ray Markham
(941) 723-2655

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