April brings good inshore, offshore action to hungry fishers

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Capt. Jason Stock of JM Snooky Charters shows off an offshore tuna catch from March 2019.

Springtime fishing is coming in good.

Both inshore and offshore fishing offer great action for those looking to get out on the water and bait a hook.

And now that the boat ramps are open, access to the water is attainable for land-locked trailered boaters.

Fishing in the inshore areas of Tampa Bay and it’s adjacent waters is providing plenty to do for those wishing to target the top trio of catch-and-release species — snook, redfish and spotted seatrout.

Many snook are being found by sportfishers along mangrove shorelines, where good title flow exists.

In the same areas, catch-and-release reds are adding variety to the snook bite. Free-lining live shiners as bait is working best for either species.

As for the catch-and-release trout, moving to slightly deeper grassy flat is proving to be advantageous. Again, areas where good tidal flow exists are producing the best opportunity to attract a trout to the hook. The combination of a jig head and soft plastic is working nicely. Free-lined shiners on a small hook also are a good bet.

For those inshore anglers in search of a species to catch and dine, Spanish mackerel are good choice right now.

Working over the artificial reefs in Tampa Bay and in the Gulf of Mexico is the best place to find these aggressive migratory fish. Free-lining live shiners as bait on a long shank hook is working best. Mixed in with the macks are jacks and ladyfish which, although they aren’t good eating, provide excellent action on light tackle.

As a bonus, you may find mangrove snapper rising to the surface to feed on the free-lined shiners. A limit of mangoes in the cooler is always a welcome sight on the homefront.

Moving offshore, high activity fish such as blackfin tuna, amberjack, kingfish and African pompano seem to be the highlight. All of these fish are strong fighters when on the line and can be taken home for dinner — especially the tuna. Free-lining live shiners or sardines is mainly attracting the action.

Once your arms are worn out, it’s probably a good idea to switch to some snapper fishing. Both yellowtail and mangrove snapper are being caught with some regularity depending on where you wind up fishing. Chumming heavily with shiners and, in some cases, with the aid of a frozen chum bag, can entice these species up from the bottom. Free-lining small shiners combined with light leaders and small hooks is resulting in limits of some tasty fish.

Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.