Outdoors | Use kayaks, unconventional tactics to target fish in springtime

March 16, 2014 

Spencer Goodwin holds a redfish he recently caught and released in Tampa Bay. PROVIDED PHOTO

Beautiful springtime weather brings out anglers who have been waiting all winter to bend a few rods.

As a result, prime inshore fishing areas become crowded on weekends and holidays, making it difficult to find your "own" areas to fish. It can be frustrating when boats and personal watercraft run close to you while fishing flats after putting in work to stay stealthy to approach fish.

One of the best ways to find quiet spots for yourself is to fish shallow in the evening. The extremely low evening tides are a great way to target and catch fish.

Looking at the tide chart for Bradenton, we have the full moon upon us. The low tide around 8 p.m. Sunday will be 0.2 after a high tide of 1.6 around 1:30 p.m., meaning this evening many flats will be too shallow to fish, but the drop-offs and holes nearby are prime feeding locations for game fish. A boat is not needed, and wading or traveling with a kayak can provide an advantage over boats.

As a kayaker, Spencer Goodwin loves these low tides. The young kayak guide knows fishing low tides means fewer boats running around shallow areas he can fish.

"Kayaks offer an advantage over other types of watercraft because they allow anglers to access areas otherwise impossible to reach in most boats," Goodwin says. "Kayaks are also extremely stealthy, which makes it possible for anglers to sneak up on spooky redfish and snook in shallow water.

"As a general rule of thumb I like to stay closer to the Gulf of Mexico to take advantage of the best tidal flow."

This means areas like the mouth of Terra Ceia, the Bulkhead in the Manatee River, Sister Keys inside Longboat pass or similar areas can make great low-tide fishing spots. Look for bait, birds and mullet working deeper water at the edges of expansive flats.

Targeting snook and redfish on low tides is aided by the fact that the fish have less water to escape to. "The redfish bite can be good throughout the entirety of the outgoing tide but is noticeably better during the incoming tide. The fish will begin tailing and feeding aggressively during this period," Goodwin said.

"My favorite lures are soft plastics made by Slayer Inc. The Sinister Swim Tail (SST) makes for a great baitfish imitation, and the Sinister Stick Bait (SSB) works very well as a shrimp imitation. Like any situation, it is best to match the hatch when choosing color. Baby bass and venice glow work well to imitate baitfish while pepper death or gold can fool a redfish into thinking it's a shrimp very well."

Each full and new moon from now until fall will provide this opportunity to fish evening and nighttime low tides. To contact Goodwin and see his low tide tactics first hand, give him a call at 727-742-4736 or visit his website at tampabaykayakcharters.com.


Next Saturday will be the Marina Jack Fish Jam Redfish & Trout tourney benefitting "Team Coop." The entry fee is $50 per person with 100 percent of proceeds going toward helping 2-year-old Cooper Vollmer, who is undergoing 70 weeks of chemotherapy for an inoperable brain tumor. Prizes will be awarded for biggest live legal redfish and trout. For information, contact Sam Chavers at 941-955-9488 or Kendra Goebel at 941-650-4461.

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