Quiet Waters Fishing charters in March were focused primarily on targeting snook and redfish in shallow water. Fly anglers and light tackle anglers enjoyed some great days in shallow water fishing the flats and the back country on my Maverick Mirage. We ran the majority of our 6 & 8 hour fishing trips out of Bradenton and fished as far north as the south shore of Tampa Bay. The fishing conditions in that area have been exceptional.
Snook remained a reliable target for both fly anglers and anglers fishing with artificial baits. Prior to the wind really kicking up, we enjoyed unbelievable water clarity for sight fishing. As the wind picked up towards the end of March the water became a little dirty, but still remained clear enough for sight fishing.
Redfish have been on the move. They’ve been skittish and have demanded that both fly and light tackle anglers make good presentations on the first cast. When we were able to do this, we were successful on redfish. Single fish have been much more receptive to presentations then small groups and schools of reds. Small shrimp and baitfish patterns were the most successful flies. For anglers using artificials, extremely small paddle tails on light jig heads, small shrimp imitations, and suspending plugs worked best.
Snook were not nearly as timid as the redfish. Though we found the larger snook to be quite wily once they were hooked. We lost a few snook in the 40” range on their first jumps and had a couple other over slot snook tear through leaders. We did manage to get a few nicer fish to the boat, but the heart still aches from the ones that came loose.
Large snook are spectacular fish and tricking them with artificials and flies in clear shallow water is quite an accomplishment. In many places, we are seeing very large snook packed tightly together on the flats. Other snook were positioned off of points and strategically laid up in sand holes.
At night, on dock lights, snook fishing has remained world class. Fly anglers especially have been enjoying some excellent nights with large numbers of snook caught. We are finally starting to see larger baitfish show up on the lights. The warmer water temperatures and the abundance of baitfish has really activated the snook. We are still catching plenty of snook on small glass minnow pattern flies, but we are starting to see more success using larger flies like lightly dressed clouser minnows and EP baitfish patterns.
Some anglers needing a short break from the demands of sight fishing in shallow water found plenty of fish drifting over deep grass. While drifting over grass is far from hunting fish, it does provide some good action which some anglers enjoy. Seatrout and other species were abundant there. Not surprisingly, we are seeing A LOT less quality sized seatrout since the FWC reopened their harvest. The pressure on our fishery is immense. Regulations and the management of our fishery don’t often reflect this fact.
April is finally here and we can start thinking more and more about the upcoming tarpon season – it’s right around the corner. We will continue to hunt snook, redfish, and larger seatrout in shallow water in April and we’ll begin to start taking more peeks at early season tarpon spots. There are certainly already some fish around.
Captain Brian Boehm
Quiet Waters Fishing