by Capt. Greg Stamper
There has been a lot of great fish caught in April and anglers throughout the area can expect more of the same. It does not matter if you are fishing in the back bays, nearshore waters, or offshore, it is all going to be good. Tarpon fishing is now outstanding, as the big push of fish have arrived from the South. We’ll be able to catch permit, cobia, and sharks regularly throughout the near shore waters. The back-water trips will be full of snook, redfish, and trout as backcountry slams will come often. Offshore guys will continue to catch an array of good eating fish.
The tarpon spawn is full speed and lots of anglers will be chasing them from the ten thousand islands all the way to Tampa. Crabs that are two to three inches wide on 5/o circle hooks with 50lb leaders will do the trick. Threadfin, pilchards, and catfish tails also work well. Permits are another great fish to target after a few tarpon have been caught, there were acers of permit last month from 30 feet out. Those same wrecks that hold the permit will also have cobia on them. When permit fishing always have a rod with a jig on it ready to go, as cobia will show up quickly and leave just as fast.
The bays, creeks, and beaches are an excellent place to spend time these days. Snook can be seen cruising the beaches, often within feet of the shore. The pilchard schools are thick now and using them or something that mimics it works best. Pompano will also be moving along these beaches and will usually be out a bit deeper. Redfishing in our bays and creeks is another option especially if the winds coming from a westerly direction. Pilchards or live shrimp are two of my favorites and I’ll start around the oyster bars and docks on the low tides, then work my way into the mangrove shorelines as the tide rises. Trout will be found on almost all the open flats especially those with nice grassy bottoms in 2-5 feet.
Offshore it is grouper full speed now, usually out past 100 feet. Mangrove snapper fishing will be good, especially during the night along with yellowtail and mutton snapper. Chumming for 30-45 minutes before even dropping a line is the way to go. Once you can get the snappers up of the bottom and closer to the boat, it is game on! Anglers that get out past 120 feet will find African pompano, gag and black grouper, blackfin tuna, and amber jacks.
Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper
Fort Myers, FL