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May 13, 2010

Tampa Bay Inshore and Offshore Fishing Report

The Tarpon Migration Is About to Start

Hello from Anna Maria Island.

It feels as if summer is coming early, things have finally warmed up around this place. You no longer need to wear long sleeves in the morning. It is t-shirt and shorts time around this here but it's not uncomfortably hot, the weather just feels more normal for this time of year. The water temp is now 80 in the gulf and getting up to 82 on the flats. Tarpon are starting to trickle in but the peek migration has yet to hit. We are just days away now. The water temperature is now perfect and huge schools of Threadfin Shad have shown up everywhere. There are as many Threadfin out there as I have ever seen and the Tarpon should be right behind them. I'm starting to see the large Hammerheads show up and that means they are ready for Tarpon dinner as well. All the bridges have Tarpon on them now. We are fishing them now and I have hooked up a few over the last few weeks. I really don't start targeting them till the migration shows up and I can guarantee my charters good Tarpon action and multiple hookups. I don't have a lot of clients that can hold out for one or two fish hooked up, but I have a lot of fisherman that can hold out for 5 to 15 which is more the norm when the migration gets here. All the other fishing is so good on the flats and offshore until the Tarpon peek that my fisherman usually would rather have lots of action. I love Tarpon fishing and can't wait for them to get here in full force. It's my favorite thing to fish for.

The fishing on the flats has been just as strong as it was in my last report. Redfish are everywhere. Most of them are large bull Redfish 30 to 34 inches, great fighter size especially on 10 pound test. Some days we have caught as many as 50 and for hours there is never a time you can't hear a drag zinging out.

The trout fishing is tremendous as it has been for many months now. All the keepers you want and lots of trophy size fish. I haven't had a week in months now we haven't landed at least a few trout over 25 inches. A 22 inch trout doesn't even raise an eyebrow this year. It seems I am catching them all the time. It's great to see and I hope the trout fishing keeps up this way.

As for Snook, I have not been fishing for them. The good news is I have seen several nice fish while cruising the flats and I did catch 3 this past week mixed in with the reds. We still do not have a complete idea what the snook loss has been. We will have to see what comes in from offshore to spawn in our passes. I think we will have a better idea in June on those stronger moons during the peak spawn.

There are plenty of Mackerel mixed in with Trout on the flats in the deeper water, which make for a tasty bonus.

Offshore things have been very good. There are still Kingfish around, but with water temps exceeding 80 they are starting to head north. The Grouper fishing is still great and you don't have to go very far to get plenty of keepers. Snapper fishing is really starting to heat up. Lots, of real nice Mangroves out there now in the 4 to 6 pound class, one of my favorites to eat. Permit are out there as well and always a possibility, you just have to be ready with a live crab when you see them. The water is clear so they can be finicky. The Little Tunny are starting to show up in a lot of places offshore now. We didn't see as many during the peak Kingfish run, seems like they are coming in a little later, probably to do to the colder winter. They are great fighters and some of my fly fishermen's favorites. Amber Jack have also been very thick out there and always a great battle. They are further out, but at 30 to 50 pounds they are worth the run. Let's not forget that Goliath Grouper are always available on the larger structures.

We haven't been impacted by the oil spill in the Gulf yet, we hope they get it stopped before it becomes a problem for us, for now everything is as usual.

Well I hope you have enjoyed my report. Good luck on the water.

Capt. Matt Ercoli