Springtime is Slam Time!

Aaron Rogers displays a 28′ snook.

If you’ve never achieved an “Inshore Slam” now is the time!

Every year when spring rolls around, the grass flats throughout Tampa Bay come alive. As baitfish start moving onto the flats, snook, redfish and seatrout follow. When this occurs, it’s the easiest time to achieve an inshore slam. If you don’t know what that is, it’s when you catch slot-size (or over) snook, redfish and seatrout on the same outing.

Now many of you may think that should be easy. Well, it’s easier said than done for some people. You’d be surprised how many people have been fishing with me that have never caught a slam. Occasionally, I meet a few anglers who have lived in the Tampa Bay area and fished all their life, but the slam still eludes them.

If an inshore slam is something you would like to pursue, you might assume that catching a slot-size seatrout would be the easiest. Not necessarily, at times it can be the most difficult to land. That’s why many times, I’ll start out fishing around some sandy potholes on the grass flats trying to catch the seatrout first. If I have no success, I’ll move on snook and redfish and come back to seatrout to close the deal.

While in pursuit, here’s where I look for that snook and redfish.

With water temperatures back in the low 70s snook are moving out of the back bays, creeks, and rivers and seeking shelter along the mangrove shorelines and points. Snook feed best on a good tidal flow. Some days it may vary whether they prefer an incoming or outgoing. So, just make sure the current is moving.

To get the action going, I toss out a few live scaled sardines and wait for the snook to respond by attacking the freebies. Once they start feeding, I have you cast a hooked live sardine to the same spot for an instant hook up. If you get lucky, you’ll be able to catch numerous snook in the same spot and also land one over 28 inches.

If I’m fishing during an incoming tide and it’s reaching its peak, move on to redfish.

Redfish like to feed on crustaceans around oyster beds and barnacle encrusted mangrove roots during a high tide. Redfish also like to travel with mullet. The reason: mullet flush baitfish and crustaceans out of the grass as they feed. Anytime I spot a school of mullet I get out in front of them and Power Pole down.

In either scenario, I always start by chumming with scaled sardines. After that, you cast a bait out that’s suspended under a cork. Once the cork goes under, give the fish 2-3 seconds to eat the bait, then when you reel and get your line tight, lift your rod for a solid hook set.

Let’s say after a day on the water you caught all three inshore slam species, but they weren’t all big fish. You still achieved a slam, just not an official inshore slam. There’s always next time.

Spanish mackerel make their presence at the mouth of Tampa Bay and slowly end up all the way past the Countney Campbell Causeway. Early on I mainly catch them around the bridges, artificial reefs, and range markers. As time goes on, Spanish mackerel start moving onto the grass flats as they feed on baitfish. There have been times when I’ve caught them in as little as two feet of water.

Some people claim Spanish mackerel aren’t good table fare. Not true. The key to good fillets is to ice the fish down immediately and always cut the bloodline out when filleting.

Afishionado, “Always an Adventure.”

Tampa fishing guide Wade Osborne, president of “Afishionado Guide Services” has been plying the waters of Tampa Bay as a professional full-time captain, since 1997. Osborne has been featured on numerous TV and radio shows and writes for multiple publications. Osborne offers inshore fishing charters on light tackle spin, fly or plug. He also offers eco-tours with an emphasis on photography.

If you enjoyed reading my fishing report, you should check out my most recent post. Please like my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.