The official first day of spring was this week, and for much of the Suncoast it was under stormy skies with threats of tornadoes. Tuesday, the day before, had a foggy start that cleared out early in the afternoon, giving way to sunny warming skies that turned on a good bite for the last day of winter. It’s predicted to be clear but just a bit cool on the water so you can look for some fishy action to heat up your weekend.
Action in offshore and nearshore waters can be dependent on several things, and two factors stand out this time of year. Cold fronts that bring high winds stir up water and create turbid conditions that make it more difficult for baitfish and predators to breathe. Gills that draw oxygen out of the water have issues in turbid conditions. Recent weeks with fronts passing about every 6 days or so, have created those conditions, forcing many species to seek greater depths where cleaner water exists. Pelagic species like Spanish and king mackerel follow bait schools and the bait will move deep on offshore wrecks. Blackfin tunas continue to be caught on Hubbard’s Marina’s 39-hour deep water trips along with a variety of snappers and groupers. Captain Dylan Hubbard, of Hubbard’s Marina noted a slower bite for most species they targeted on the shorter trips that fish nearshore.
Cold fronts can also drop water temperatures in the shallower nearshore waters. Fish that remain in these depths experience a noticeable slowing of metabolism, making for diminished appetites. During periods of prolonged cold, fish that are in these depths will move deeper where temperatures are more moderate and will also see an increase in metabolism, making them look for food again.
At mid-week this week, wind predictions with a northerly direction will blow up to 20-knots but will come down by the weekend. Cooler nights in the 40’s are predicted through Friday with a slow warming trend by Sunday. As we get toward that time frame you can expect better conditions for both nearshore and offshore fishing.
Fishing has been tough inshore with recent fronts dropping water temps into the mid- 60’s. Fog, at times, has created navigation issues for inshore anglers and cool, windy, foggy mornings have been uncomfortable on the water. Many anglers are reporting a very slow bite for redfish, and in some areas guides report seeing fish that just plain won’t eat….