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Follow the diving birds to the scaled sardines on flats

Published:   |   Updated: March 11, 2014 at 04:31 PM

Tarpon Fishing Outfitters, (727) 942-8944(727) 942-8944: Don says cool nights are delaying the spring breakout, though there are signs that things are getting ready to bust loose. Scaled sardines have returned to the flats, and Don has been catching them for his recent trips. He advises looking for diving birds on the flats to locate them. He advises working docks for reds, but don’t miss opportunities on the flats around the islands. He and a partner took three nice reds at Caladesi Island. Trout are on the shallow grass, and snook are starting to work their way out into open water. Offshore, grouper diggers report finding red grouper in 50 to 60 feet of water.

One Stop Bait and Tackle, (727) 842-5610(727) 842-5610: Joe says anglers are finding trout on the shallow and deeper flats along the coast. Live shrimp and jigs are working well. The spoil islands off the Anclote River and south along St. Joseph Sound have been producing some redfish. Small snook are being taken at the mouth of the river and around creek mouths. Sheepshead are in most of the canals, taking live or frozen shrimp off the bottom. Offshore, anglers have been scoring nice-sized grunts and sea bass in 45 to 65 feet of water. Keeper red grouper are being caught in 65 feet of water.

Angler’s Depot, (727) 938-5364(727) 938-5364: Cody says anglers have been finding more and more reds. Fish are around the spoils and mangrove shorelines. More snook are being reported, though the fish have been small. The mouth of the Anclote River has been producing best, but about any of the creek mouths will produce a fish or two now. Sheepshead fishing is good in the canals, and while trout are being taken, the bite has slowed the average size of fish has been small.

Anclote Bait and Tackle, (727) 945-1808(727) 945-1808: Capt. Griff says more snook are being caught, though the fish are mostly small males. Reds have been active along the mangroves, particularly south of the Anclote River, but they have been on the small side, as well. Trout are biting fairly well, but finding keepers on the flats has been tough. The bigger fish reported came from the Anclote power plant outfall. Mackerel have been the big news. Fish have been showing up on the grass flats north and south of the Anclote River.

The Long Pier, (727) 391-9398(727) 391-9398: Gary says anglers have been taking fair numbers of flounder. Live shrimp on the bottom is tops. Trout fishing has been good, particularly after dark under the lights. Mackerel have been scattered, with anglers doing well when a school comes by the pier at Redington Shores. Sheepshead have been taking shrimp off the bottom around the pilings, the odd black drum is being landed, and some bonnethead sharks have been caught.

Nick Stubbs is founder and webmaster of Bitetracker.com, an interactive fishing website.

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