For the outdoor enthusiast there is really nothing not to like about the month of April in Southwest Florida. And, for the serious angler or just the casual boater that enjoys time on the water, this month is tops on the list. The windy, and this year, cold days, of March will give way to sunny, mild days (not too hot, not too cold). With an early Easter, many of our winter friends from the north are heading back home for the summer, leaving the waterways (not to mention the roadways) less crowded and, best of all, it's a great time to fish.
Fishing, there's not much you can't catch this month. Large schools of baitfish will move into our waters and predator fish of all shapes and size will be there for the feast. We will catch our largest sea trout of the year with many going well over 20 inches and a few pushing 30. Spanish mackerel should be running both 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 with mackerel. If you want to tug on something larger, keep an eye out for a big cobia or shark patrolling the action.
Offshore, red grouper season is once again open; please check the current regulations at www.myfwc.com before heading offshore for those tasty grouper filets.
Despite windy and cold conditions last week, the fish were still biting. On a morning fishing trip with Capt. Bill Russell in Pine Island Sound, E.J. Eckert of Bonito Springs landed this big trout near a mangrove shoreline.
Speaking of large fish, tarpon will begin to invade our waters and they are just as likely to gulp down a live shrimp as anything, so don't be surprised when that hundred pound missile explodes from the water after your bobber goes under. Tarpon numbers will increase as the month progresses.
Finally this month, after the winter lows, we get some big, 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. Also, although under closed season and strictly catch and release, snook are on the move and hungry. Before our snook population was decimated by January 2010, this was the month I and many other snook addicts anticipated more that any time of year. Snook are making a comeback -not sure when the population will be adequate to support an open season, but in the meantime treat them with respect, have fun catching them, but 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.
There's not enough room in this column to cover all the different fishing opportunities this month, we only touched on a few, but you get the idea, if it swims through our waters you have a good chance of catching it, or at least seeing it. If there is one month that just doesn't have enough days to take advantage of all the great fishing and boating available in our waters, April is it.
Have a safe week and good fishin'.