Mid-April fishing inshore, offshore runs hot, predators, too

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Jess Sturtevant of Bradenton shows off a nice blackfin tuna caught on a live cigar minnow in 118 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico while on a fishing trip with Capt. David White of Anna Maria Charters. White says, there’s “lots of tuna out there right now!”
As clouds gather in the east, several fisherman work for a catch April 10 on the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach. Pier amenities — the restaurant, shops, including a bait shop and tour boat — were closed due to COVID-19, but the pier remained open to people willing to follow social distancing guidelines. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

April fishing around Anna Maria Island is quite good.

Offshore fishers report catching a wide variety of species, from migratory fish to bottom dwellers.

As for the migratory fish, kingfish action has been good. So has action on amberjack and blackfin tuna. All three species are taking offerings of live sardines and shiners.

Sharks and barracuda are present in these areas, posing a threat when reeling in a fish. Many catches are being lost to the sharks and barracudas, which can be aggravating but, hey, it’s all part of the food chain.

Bottom fishing around offshore wrecks is rewarding, but again you have to be on the lookout for thieving sharks and barracudas.

Mangrove and yellowtail snapper are being caught frequently, with most running 18 inches or bigger to provide some nice fillets for the frying pan.

Moving inshore, catch-and-release snook and spotted seatrout are dominating the shallow-water action. Freelining live shiners over shallow grass flats around mangrove shorelines is best for sportfishers looking to hook up with a snook. Strong moving tides around the full moon really have the snook fired up.

As for trout, deep grass areas are holding impressive numbers of fish. Most are 16-22 inches and live shiners as bait and artificials — soft plastics — work well.

If flats fishing isn’t your fancy, try working the artificial reefs and other structure in Tampa Bay. Spanish mackerel, jacks, blue runners and ladyfish can be found in these areas and all three species provide excellent action on light tackle and typically will take a bait or artificial offering such as a small jig or silver spoon.

While you’re fishing over structure, don’t forget to drop a bait toward the bottom to see if the mangrove snapper are cooperating. Small live shiners or even shrimp will work for these tasty little fish.

On a final note, if you’re out in the boat, remember to follow the public health and safety guidelines— observe proper distancing from other boats and, remember, to be safe on the water.

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