Full moon kicks off best-ever action on backwater trio
Knowing April 15 was the full moon, maybe you’ve looked at your tide chart and you too are excited to see what’s in store this week. The afternoon outgoing tides should produce some of the best backwater fishing we’re going to see this spring.
Snook fishing should prove prosperous this week. Try using live shiners in your favorite snook spots and see what happens. I favor outgoing tides for snook, especially in April. Now is the time to target your all-time biggest snook.
Spotted seatrout will be turning on this week. Look for areas when the outgoing tide is dumping off shallow flats into deeper water. Trout use these areas as ambush points to prey on small baitfish and shrimp that are being flushed by the tide’s current.
Finally, utilize the start of the outgoing tides when the water is at the highest point to find redfish around mangrove shorelines and oyster bars. This high water enables anglers to get to areas that are usually difficult to reach by boat. If you’re lucky, you may find schooling reds, which can result in some sizzling light-tackle action and maybe a blackened redfish for dinner.
Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing productive morning tides for pier fishers targeting Spanish mackerel. Speck rigs in either bubble gum or chartreuse are attracting a bite. Calmer, warmer mornings are more productive, according to Malfese, so try to plan your fishing excursions with this in mind. Lingering cold fronts and strong north winds are definitely hampering the bite, so fish before or a few days after the weather. Malfese says to expect to catch macks 15-20 inches at the R&R.
Jack crevalle are being caught on calmer days. Schools of these fish are passing by the pier in search of baitfish. The average size of these jacks is 10-15 pounds and you need the gear to handle them. The tackle you use for Spanish macks will not do the job. These jacks will spool light tackle really fast. For lures, try buck tail jigs, silver spoons or even top-water plugs.
If you’re looking for something to put on the plate, flounder and sheepshead are a good bet. Most catches occurring are under slot, so you’ll have to be determined to catch dinner.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier says mackerel are the mainstay this week. Silver spoons, crappie jigs or Gotcha plugs are a surefire way to get these high-speed fish to bite. While targeting macks, you can expect to tie into jack crevalle, ladyfish and some bluefish, too.
Flounder are next on the list for pier fishers. By dropping weighted live shrimp under the pier deck, you can expect to catch flounder as well as numerous other species of fish. Keeper-size flounder are attainable, although you may have to release a few small ones before getting a worthy fish. Also, patience is a virtue, due to the vast amount of bait-stealers. Pinfish, grunts and small mangrove snapper will do everything they can to eat your bait before it reaches a hungry flounder.
Capt. Aaron Lowman at Island Discount Tackle is finding a great redfish bite during the flood tides, especially in the afternoon. By anchoring and chumming with live shiners, Lowman’s clients are getting action on copper-colored bombers. Although most fish are over-slot, there are no complaints. Expect to catch reds exceeding the slot of 18-27 inches, with most fish being over 30 inches.
On the flats of Sarasota Bay, Lowman is targeting spotted seatrout. To find these tasty yellow-mouthed fish, he’s targeting sandy potholes on the flats, casting live free-lined shiners to the edges and into the potholes, resulting in slot-size trout as well as trout up to 25 inches.
While targeting trout, Lowman is finding by-catch — hungry jack crevalle. They have just invaded our local waters and are eating anything that crosses their path. You also can expect to catch ladyfish, bluefish and mackerel. These fish may not make it into the cooler for dinner, but they are great adversaries on light spinning tackle.
Capt. Warren Girle is having yet another great week on the water. Both offshore and inshore charters are proving prosperous, especially on calm, sunny days with good tidal flow.
Fishing offshore is resulting in limits of mangrove snapper. By using fresh-cut shiners or whole live shrimp, Girle’s clients are hooking up snapper 15-20 inches. Also expect to catch Key West grunts, catch-and-release gag grouper and, if you’re lucky, a few hogfish. Red grouper are in the mix, although keeper-size fish are sporadic.
Migratory species, macks and bonito are attracting Girle’s attention while offshore. To catch these high-speed fish, Girle is free-lining live shiners behind the boat. For the kings, fish up to 20 pounds are the average. For the macks, expect fish in the 20-inch range.
Moving inshore, Girle is hammering the Sarasota Bay redfish population. On a recent charter, Girle said he lost count after boating 30 redfish. Not a bad day according to anyone’s standards. Live shiners are the bait of choice.
Snook also are responding to shiners, which is resulting in fish up to 35 inches. The same applies for spotted seatrout, with over-slot catches reaching 27 inches.
Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is doing well with snook this week. Even during the windiest days, Gross is leading his clients to slot- and over slot-size fish. By free-lining shiners or placing them under a Bimini Bay popping cork, Gross is getting these “bass on steroids” to bite. Most fish are being found around mangrove shorelines, although Gross reminds us not to neglect fishing around docks.
Moving to the flats is resulting in an exceptional trout bite. Again, Gross is either free-lining or cork fishing with shiners to get the bite. Slot-size trout are the norm, but don’t be surprised to catch plenty of over-slot fish, too.
While hunting trout on the flats, Gross also is hooking up jack crevalle, ladyfish, bluefish and macks — all invading the flats in search of baitfish. Once they spot your shiner, it’s game on.
Redfish are coming aboard the Fishy Business, although Gross says he’s not yet seeing rallies, although he may be too busy nailing big snook and trout.
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