If I had to choose one month of the year to fish Pine Island and southwest Florida it would be hard to pass on the month of April. As we transition into spring the water comes alive as large schools of baitfish move up the coast and hungry predators of all shapes and sizes are right on their heels. Weather is generally great for the month, light winds, with sunny mild days, plus the waters are the clearest we will see all year. As you can see from the pictures, March brought us some great fishing, I expect April to be even better.
We should catch our largest sea trout of the year with many going well over twenty inches and a few pushing thirty. Spanish mackerel are running large in size and numbers throughout our inshore waters, off the beaches, and offshore. Also, expect to catch a mix of bluefish, ladyfish, and small sharks mixed with the mackerel. If you want to tug on something larger keep an eye out for a big cobia or shark patrolling the action.
Large sharks are making their way into our waters, it’s possible to hook up with big bulls and lemons inshore, some pushing 10 feet. Also, look for blacktips and spinners inshore and off the beaches. They may range from 3 to 6 feet, and are some of the hardest fighting fish in the water, plus they often give an impressive aerial show when hooked.
The tarpon invasion begins this month throughout southwest Florida. It’s possible to hook into a big silver king if you are fishing for them or not. They are just as likely to gulp down a live shrimp or small lure as anything, so don’t be surprised when that hundred pound silver missile explodes from the water after your bobber goes under. With calm days look for large schools of fish a short distance off the beach, early morning is the best time to toss a small live crab or Atlantic thread herring ahead of the school. Tarpon numbers will increase inshore, in the passes, and off the beaches as the month progresses.
Finally, after months of winter lows, we get some, high (spring) tides during the day. This is just what redfish anglers that like to target their prey under the bushes or mangroves have been waiting for. Fishing a stretch of shoreline over the last couple hours of the rising and first of the falling tide on the big tide days will result in plenty of redfish action. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the month will hold mornings with ultra-low tides, just the ticket for sight fishing reds over the shallow flats.
Snook season is open through the end of the month, they are on the move and hungry. If there is one fish that’s very easy to get obsessed with it would be snook. To me, they are without a doubt our premier gamefish, and after you hook a few it’s very easy to get the snook bug. Snook have a slot-size (28-33 inches) that only allows for a five inch slot, so most fish hooked fall below or above the range. For all fish to be released it’s important to quickly get them unhooked, back in the water, and safely released. If you keep them in the water even better, use circle hooks to prevent deep damaging hook sets.
If there is one month that just don’t have enough days to take advantage of all the great fishing and boating available in our waters, April is it.
“Catch the Action” with Captain Bill Russell