On the Water: April is a great month to get out on the water
This is a month that has a lot to offer anglers on the coastal waters of Southwest Florida. It would be easy to argue that April may hold our best fishing of the year, plus possibly our best weather. It’s a month with a lot of possibilities, it’s highly recommended to load the boat with a range of fishing arsenal that will cover everything from large to small if you are fishing inshore or offshore.
Spanish mackerel should invade our waters both inshore and offshore, plus are often caught in good numbers from public piers and bridges. They are often roaming or looking for food in large schools throughout the coastal water of Southwest Florida. Keep an eye open for birds working the water as mackerel often push schooling bait to the water’s surface. Artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico may hold large numbers of Spanish, plus a few of their large cousins, king mackerel or king fish.
Reefs in the Gulf within sight of land will hold a variety of fish on any given day. Good eating snapper, grunts, Spanish mackerel and the last run of spawning sheepshead, plus hard fighting barracuda, and a big cobia or permit are all a good possibility.
Many anglers will get a jump start on the tarpon and find fish with little competition from other anglers as May and June are the months that get most of the attention. Schools of tarpon will be milling around off the Gulf beaches ranging in depths from just off the beach out to 30 feet or more. Tarpon are also moving inshore, with areas including Pine Island Sound, San Carlos Bay and Charlotte Harbor good areas to target.
Sharks, big and small, are on the prowl and always looking to challenge the willing anglers. In my opinion, blacktip and spinner sharks are some of the most challenging fish to catch in our waters. Not only do they possess an extremely hard, no give up fight, they also make violent leaps and they’re extremely fast. Many of the big spinners explode into such a wild spinning leap it’s very difficult to keep them from exploiting the weak link in your rigging. A large spinner or blacktip will rival a tarpon for sheer power and fight. Also moving in with the tarpon are the hammerhead and bull sharks, the largest of which are hanging around the tarpon schools awaiting a fish in distress for an easy meal.
About every kid on my boat wants to catch a shark and it’s not always possible, but it’s good if you can match the size of the shark you target to the kids age. You get a young kid hooked up to a big shark and not only will it be way more than they can handle, but also may scare the you know what out of them. There will be plenty of sharks of various species ranging in size from 3 to 5 feet – this is a great size for most kids, for that matter it’s a good size for most adults.
With water temperature in the mid-70s, the snook bite should be very good. April brings strong spring tides with lots of moving water and high day time tides. Snook may range in size from little guys barely a foot long to big girls pushing 40 inches or more. My favorite thing with snook, no matter the size, they all strike and fight with the same tenacity and determination.
Snook and redfish seasons remain closed, all must be quickly released. You can still catch them, let’s just make sure we return them to the water unharmed. Both will often be caught together inshore around island points and oyster bars
A month or so back, Florida Fish and Wildlife imposed a new regulation that we may not harvest any sea trout over 20 inches in Southwest Florida. One fish of your limit of four previously could measure over 20 inches. There is still a four fish limit per person measuring between 15 and 20 inches. All sea trout measuring over 20 inches must be handled with care and released
This is a good rule and should have been implemented years ago. These large fish are the breeders and carry thousands of eggs, plus they have beat the odds to grow to this size, so they have good genetics. FWC listened to the concerns of anglers about the lack of trout catches after the summers red tide and took appropriate action. Sea trout are often in schools and can be targeted over grass flats through our inshore waters and many of the largest trout will be caught while snook fishing along shorelines and oyster bars.
Keep your options open as this is a month with so many fishing opportunities that it’s easy to start the day with one species in mind and get side tracked with another. With good weather and the potential for great fishing, get on the water and take advantage of it!
If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us Gulf Coast Guide Service at 239-283-7960, via the Website www.fishpineisland.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a safe week and good fishin’.
As a native of Pine Island, Capt. Bill Russell has spent his entire life fishing and learning the waters surrounding Pine Island and as a professional fishing guide for the past 18 years.