Fishing ReportsWest-Central

Tampa Bay and the Gulf Of Mexico

The fishing continues to be on hot in Tampa Bay and the Gulf Of Mexico and so is the weather. We are starting to have some decent weather that has allowed us to get out almost everyday.


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Photo: Captain Barry MacFarlane

Inshore we have been getting lots of big reds in the lower 30″ range with a few slot sized ones mixed in with them. It’s still pretty easy to find them because the water clarity has been pretty decent for this time of year. On days when livebait or artificials doesn’t seem to work some cut bait is really doing the trick. Snook have been easy to find with most of them being slot or much larger. Either way they get thrown back because the season closed May 1st.

Tarpon have arrived everywhere in the last couple weeks and it’s hard not to find them in the lower half of the bay. I sat in a marina and watched them roll for hours last Friday. It’s been easy to get them to eat live threadfins and dead ones as well but I’m still trying to hook one up on a Hogy or Mirrolure.

Our trips offshore have been fantastic with a variety of species being caught on every trip. This nice sized sailfish was caught on a nearshore trip with Captain Robert Kidd inside of state waters. We have hooked up multiple sailfish in the last couple weeks which is something I haven’t seen in about 15 years.

The grouper fishing has been really solid with a mix of gags, reds, and scamps coming in the boat on both nearshore and offshore reefs and wrecks. It can be challenging getting a bait down to the bottom with all the american red snapper on some of the deeper reefs though. Jumbo whitebaits are really getting it done for the gags.

While on our wreck fishing trips we have been getting some pretty decent cobia. We start off with a big threadfin on the bottom and then pick off the following cobias on a flat line once we get it to the top. There are few fish better fish to eat than a steaked out cobia on the grill except for maybe a hogfish. We have been managing between 1 and 3 hogfish per trip in anywhere from 30 to 90 feet of water. These are all being taken on rod and reel on extremely light tackle.

The Mangrove snapper are eating everything in site as well. A chum bag and some cut sardines are really getting them to fire off. We are pulling up bar jacks, triggerfish, scamps and mangrove snappers by the dozen once the slick gets going.Our coolers have been full every time we hit the dock.

Please join us at the Florida state fairgrounds for the Tampa Bay Times boat show on May 17th at 1pm for our seminar on inshore bait selection and May 18th at 12pm for our seminar on land based tarpon fishing. Admission is free and parking is $6.

Captain Barry MacFarlane
Gulf To Bay Charters