April is a month that signals great fishing opportunities on the waters surrounding Pine Island, Sanibel and Southwest Florida for both the inshore and offshore anglers. With sunny skies and warm weather, the month is already off to a good start.
Offshore, anglers are hooking into a variety of fish including snapper, grouper, kings and cobia. King mackerel or kingfish were reported in 60 to 80-foot depths west of Boca Grande, taken while drift fishing with live thread herring and blue runners for bait. No schools were reported just singles spread out around bait pods. Bottom fishing was consistent in the 40 to 60-foot depths west of Captiva and Sanibel for a mix of fish including grunts, porgies, snapper, flounder and grouper. The best bet was to anchor up tide of structure and toss out a chum bag during times of day with a decent tide flow. The best baits were live shrimp and shrimp tipped jigs, plus live thread herring dropped back into the chum. A few hog fish up to 5 pounds were also caught west of Captiva on live shrimp fished on bottom.
Grouper season opened on April 1, the grouper regulations are pretty confusing for those of us who don't fish offshore, so if you aren't sure on what is in season or where you can catch and keep them, go online to www.my-fwc.com/fishing/saltwater/regulations before hitting the water. If you are still confused, consult one of our great local tackle shops.
Team ‘Fire Fish’
Pictured are Hailey & John Burbage, Brenden & Jennifer Faulkner and Capt. Bill Russell, plus Laurie Russell behind the camera, with a 23-inch redfish that helped the team to a 2nd place finish in the “Little Bobbers” division of the Bobby Holloway Memorial Fishing Tournament held on Saturday.
Inshore, weather was great, fishing was good at times and pretty slow at times. That's to be expected during the days each month that we have two tide changes a day resulting in periods of very slow water movement rather than our four tide changes per day (24 hours) that are the normal.
As we move into another month, trout fishing continues steady with fish reported pretty much anywhere there has relatively clear water and a grass bottom. Capt. Gary Clark reports plenty of slot trout from the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River west to Tarpon Bay over grass flats in 4 to 6-foot depths. Fishing live thread herrings under popping corks over grass bottom with sand breaks took fish up to 20 inches. The fish are moving each day so it is often necessary to spend some time moving around to locate the fish each day. Capt. Clark also reports several flounder with one measuring 20 inches, a 23-inch cobia, plus snook to 14 pounds near the mouth of the river.
Capt. Cliff Simer reports periods of slow fishing and periods of good fishing over each day. Live pilchards hooked both snook and trout in Pine Island Sound, plus a few big Spanish mackerel. The snook and trout were taken on the western side near Captiva Pass with the largest trout measuring 25 inches and the mackerel taken at the western end of Captiva Rocks. Redfish were a challenge with a few up to 23 inches caught in south Matlacha Pass under the mangroves on the rising tide.
Fishing the perimeter of Charlotte Harbor, Capt. Ken Honc caught redfish just shy of 27 inches plus trout to 19 inches. The redfish were tucked deep under the mangroves and the trout were along the bar edges in 3 to 5-foot depths.
On my boat we had a decent week but the tide, or lack thereof, definitely played a role. At periods each day the water was moving and fishing was good and at times the water was almost stagnant and fishing was slow. With a sea breeze each afternoon this helped push the incoming water and jump start the bite. We found trout both in Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass with our largest measuring just over 24 inches. With a little effort a limit of fish averaging 16 to 20 inches was accomplished in the morning then we attempted to play with snook or reds.
Snook are showing up in decent numbers along shorelines throughout the area with some large ones as well. Our biggest of the week measured 37 inches and was caught and released on a live shiner in north Matlacha Pass. We had to work to catch a redfish with only one or two boated each day averaging 21 to 24 inches in length. The reds were caught either under the mangroves or on sand bottom along the shoreline. Some really nice flounder also showed up this week around Bokeelia. We caught one early in the week that measured 21 inches - that doesn't sound like much on paper, but let me tell you that was one big and hard fighting flounder.
Tarpon and shark reports are beginning to filter in as tarpon were either sighted or hooked in Charlotte Harbor near Bokeelia, in the southern sound east of Chino Island, and just off the beach on Sanibel. Blacktip and bull sharks were either hooked or caught in mid-Pine Island Sound between Demere Key and Captiva Pass and south of Useppa Island. The numbers should increase with a big push of sharks and tarpon arriving within the next week or so.
Congratulations to all the winners in the Bobby Holloway Memorial Fishing Tournament and also to those that put in a ton of work and effort to make this great event possible. Thanks to my Little Bobbers fishing team, team "Fire Fish."
What a great day ee enjoyed and these four young anglers fished hard, had fun, and took home the second place trophy. Well done team, can't wait till next year!
Have a safe week and good fishin'.