By ARCHIE GIANNELLA
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 16, 2002
Baitfish schools have arrived, bringing changes in fish behavior. Along the beaches and around the mouth of Tampa Bay, action on mackerel, kingfish, and other migratory predators is in full swing.
In Old Tampa Bay and along the bay's western shore to the Skyway, however, April fishing can be hit or miss. Often it seems snook, trout, jacks, and redfish charge hungrily out of backwaters in mid-March, yet action slows around April's new moon. Late-season cold fronts also slow the bite for a few days.
Planning a variety of options greatly increases odds of success. A typical day might involve getting on the water and securing bait near bridges before sunrise.
I much prefer big threadfin herring (greenbacks) to scaled sardines (whitebait) this time of year. You won't get as many hits but the average fish is bigger. If possible, net a reasonable number of both kinds. For example, Saturday morning we didn't get a hit on white bait. Sunday the situation reversed and threadfins went untouched.
Snook and jacks feed early in the day along the rocky edges of causeways, and in cuts and channels near grass flats. Reds and trout are likelier to be in the grass. Stretches of moving water generally produce best.
When the tide slows midday, the unproductive time can be well spent running to another part of the bay. Studying tide charts can really pay off here. For instance, if you head south from the Interbay area as the ebb tide slows, you should arrive at the flats around the Skyway or Mullet Key as the rising tide picks up. Along the way, you may well encounter roving schools of mackerel.
-- Capt. Archie Giannella charters out of Tampa on The Noble Neil and can be reached at (813) 251-5512 or by e-mail at CaptArchie@mindspring.com.