February 21-23

Spring-like weather has triggered appetites of fish inshore, and the good weather pattern with light winds has allowed anglers to get offshore to take advantage of some great fishing there as well. A cold front that’s expected to move into the area by the weekend could affect these conditions, depending on the severity and changes accompanied with the front.


Wilson Keene (L) of Bradenton with Brian Williams of Bradenton with a 15 and a 17-pound tripletail caught on live shrimp using 10-pound braided line.

The bite’s on! It seems just getting out on the water has been a real chore lately but this week, conditions allowed most anyone looking to drop a line to get out. For anglers from inshore to offshore and nearshore, fish are being caught. Mangrove snapper have been cooperative just about everywhere there is hard bottom or some kind of structure in depths ranging from 12 to over 100-feet of water.

Get ready for this Sunday’s new moon. Stronger tides during this moon phase may make it more difficult to stay on your anchored spots. Check out the tide tables for your area on the FS website or in your magazine for periods of slack tide if you’re looking to do some bottom fishing.

Hogfish, white grunts, along with mangrove and lane snapper have been coming over the rails on the 10-hour all day trips aboard Hubbard’s Marina party boats along with a few red grouper. Good weather has had these boats out all week with the half-days and 10-hour trips. Half-days are producing some hogfish and white grunts. This weekend’s new moon might be a good time to get out and target mangrove snapper. They chew pretty well as a rule, at night.


Capt. Ray Markham with an oversized red caught on a MirrOlure Marsh Minnow Jr.

The FWC announced that the current catch-and-release measures for snook, trout, and redfish will be extended for an additional year, (through May 31, 2021) in all waters from Hernando/ Pasco county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County due to the impacts from a prolonged red tide that lasted from November 2017 through February 2019. While some areas have seen some good increases in numbers of fish of each of these species, other areas have not.

In the Tampa Bay area, redfish action seems to be on the rise in most areas of the bay. Good reports continue to filter in from the north end of Tampa Bay around the Weedon Island area, the South Shore from Apollo Beach to the Skyway and in the Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve. Chris and Michelle Trout of Bradenton have been finding some good action down in lower Tampa Bay with snook, trout, and redfish. This area is just north of the border of where red tide was affecting the fishery. For anglers fishing south of the Manatee River, they are seeing increases of trout and redfish. Snook down in Charlotte Harbor have been slower coming back, according to reports. Capt. Rick Grassett who fishes out of CB Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key has been leading his anglers, both fly and spin, to some good action with a variety of species. Snook, trout, redfish, pompano, and sheepshead have been in the catch lately with most coming on CAL Jigs with Shad tails and some on flies.

I took a recent busman’s holiday for a day on the water with Capt. Bucky Goldman of Tampa. We set out to try some new lures from MirrOlure. The results were very impressive with both of us tearing up big redfish on the new MirrOlure Marsh Minnow Jr. We tried a variety of colors rigged on 1/4 –ounce CAL Jigs with good success.

The northern end of the Suncoast has seen some good action for trout inshore but reports say that the big gator trout that are usually in this time of year are fewer than in years past. I’m certain that our warmer than usual weather has had an effect on these fish as well as many others. Still, good numbers of fish are being caught. Anglers must continue to release all snook, trout, and redfish south of the Pasco/ Hernando county line through May of next year.


A nice Tampa pond bass ate this new Westin Swim SW 9 gram suspending hard bait.

Bass that are bedding this time of year continue with the spawn. This weekend could see some banner action around the new moon with aggressive fish for anglers who target them. Flipping is possibly the most effective method for these fish that guard their nests. Big breeder-sized bass are the result of catches here. Soft plastics like lizards, snake imitations, and others will take many of these fish. Most anglers choose to release spawning fish for obvious reasons.

Crankbaits and spinnerbaits are also accounting for some nice fish right now as well. Area ponds are holding some nice fish as well. The new suspending hard bait from Westin-fishing.com called the Swim SW, a 9-gram wt. lure has been slamming some nice bass in Hillsborough County lakes. Look for these new lures to appear in area bait shops soon. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

Capt. Ray Markham

(941) 723-2655











EMAIL Ray {941-228-3474} www.CaptainRayMarkham.com

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