CONDITIONS: As April slides into the history books,we continue to endure improving conditions but not much of a change in fishing quality. We continue to see inconsistent results. The conditions this week will be more of the same and we’ll have to see if the fishing quality finally takes off. The water should stay clean and green despite some continuing gusty winds which start the week out do the southeast and end up out of the more disruptive northwest. Look for the early mornings to be “wind placid” until mid morning and then churn up as the gusts kick in. The storm / fronts are not forecast until late week so early week fishing should be the preference these coming days. The tides this week will be unusual…..we are heading to a new moon late week and facing what they call “neap” tides (neap means strong); by week end we will see both tides nearing an unprecedented four foot range which you’ll want to avoid as will the fish. Water temps which now are reaching 78-79 degrees should continue.
BACKWATER: While the effort for action on many of the resident species are tenuous to say the least, we are now in the height of the legendary tarpon season. And hooking into one of these legends of the sea may not be as difficult as you think. Here are some of the points: Stout tackle; Cut catfish for bait; North edges of Marco River or north edges of Capri Channel early AM or first hours either tide. Key point on fighting tarpon…..when the fish jumps don’t pull back on the rod but rather dip it to avoid the hook being tossed. Otherwise, the most desirable fish, the Florida pompano, continues it’s maddening “hide and seek” game. Some days they are thick and feeding in the Capri, Hurricane and Caxambas Passes especially at the first and last hours of either tide taking tipped white jigs. Great action and results which causes anglers to race back there for next three or four days and get nothing but blue runners and catfish. The other “most desirable” species now in the warmer water is the mangrove snapper which thrives in the warmth. But, they, too are hit and miss right now. Working areas like Hurricane Pass or back along the edges of Addison or Johnson Bay’s with whole shrimp into current flow on either moderate tidal flow should get you the best action available. But again, some days their there and some days their not. Give it 15-20 minutes working any spot and if no action…..pick up and move on to another spot.
NEARSHORE: Most days getting started early before the “heat differential” winds kick in should be a goal to achieve relatively good sea conditions. Plus morning action seems to be stronger than the balance of the day. Mackerel are here but seem focused on bait gathered at the major structure spots i.e. Capri Barges, Isaac Walton Reef and the Five Mile Reef complex. Work them with heavy chum effort followed by pulling tipped top water jigs through the resultant slick quickly. Keep the chum going and they should hold the position and continue to feed……hopefully on your jig. There might also be some bluefish in the mix which will present another good fight. Bottom action nearshore is also good holding those same locales. Snapper, both lane and mangrove, will be drawn to your mackerel chum slick and and feeding on it from beneath. Try free lining a piece of the chum into the slick with no weight and see if a mega snapper will rise to feed
OFFSHORE: Same suggestion here about timing…..start early to get the best of the days. Red grouper continue to please by staying on an active bite and continue their move inshore. Look for them over hard bottom starting in the 9-12 mile range working live pinfish / sand perch tight to the bottom structure on a drift. Gags still have to be released. Mid to deep wrecks are continuing to produce reasonable catches of migrating pelagics with cobia and kingfish heading the list. Work the kingfish with live bait set out under chum or on a slow troll on artificials or tethered live blue runner. Cobia will come to you….Chum as attractant will draw them on the surface where they will fall for a sight castes live thread herring.