April, what a great month to enjoy the waters around Southwest Florida. The windy days of March will give way to sunny, mild days (not too hot, not too cold). 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. Of all the great fishing months, April is at the top of my list.
There's not much you can't catch this month. Large schools of baitfish will move into our waters and predator fish off 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 sharks patrolling the action.
Large sharks are making their way into our waters to give birth to their pups. It's possible to hook up with big bulls and lemons inshore, some pushing 10 feet. Also, look for blacktips 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.
Despite overcast and windy conditions Carole Linn vacationing from Eagle River Wisconsin started the day off right. Her first fish and first snook was this big snook, just shy of 33 inches. She was fishing Matlacha Pass with Capt. Bill Russell.
Tarpon, and some big ones, will invade our waters and 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. 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.
Snook season is open through the end of the month, they are on the move and hungry. Before our snook population was decimated by the cold weather in January 2010, this was the month that I and many snook addicts anticipated more that any time of year. Snook are making a comeback, it's hard to catch many in the legal slot (28-33 inches) but they are a blast to catch of any size. 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.
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 don't have enough days to take advantage of all the great fishing and boating available in our waters, April is it.