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Sunday, Dec 21, 2014
Go Fishing

Wading is best bet around Bay area flats

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GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Frank Sargeant.

The full moon in March offers prime tides for wading the flats of Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor for redfish, trout and snook. The strong moon periods create lower-than-average tides on the fall, which makes it easier to spot fish in the shallows and get a lure in front of them.

The South Shore area is prime wading country, with easy access out of several south county ramps for kayak anglers as well as flats rigs. There’s good wading bottom from Shell Point at Ruskin to the Skyway and beyond, and there are always lots of fish somewhere in this stretch in March and April.

Spanish mackerel never really went away this year, but this month and next is prime time for them as the big migratory schools pass through on their way to summering areas off the Panhandle. Get out at daybreak and look for flocks of gulls diving on bait anywhere from Port Manatee on out to the Whistler Buoy on Egmont Channel and you’ll find macks under them — as well as kingfish on the outside edge. For jumbo macks, fish spoil bar humps at Port Manatee and along the Tampa ship channel with live sardines, adding some chopped threadfin chum to lure them close.

In freshwater, captain Angie Douthit reports from Okeechobee that crappie are still biting well and bluegills are just getting started on the beds, so working sandy bottom areas with plenty of bulrushes or maidencane can produce a nice mess of panfish. Use live minnows or jigs for the crappies, and live worms or crickets for the bluegills.

She says bass action is dependable as well, with topwaters best early, flipping in the weeds or rattlebaits on the weed edges best later in the day. She said the spawn is winding down, but there are still plenty of fish in the shallow areas in post-spawn mode.

For more details visit www.southfloridabassfishing.com.

Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at franksargeant@charter.net

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