CONDITIONS: First week in awhile that we show periodic rain events…..shows that spring is really here. Should not influence the fishing opportunity as the they are forecast to be scattered showers. The overall air temperatures continue to climb and afternoons will be on the toasty high eighties. The water temperatures follow and will show in the mid seventies and rising. Problem issue this past week was the muddy water churned up by that strong west wind post weekend. Will take some time for that episode to totally clear but should improve quickly with the placid winds forecast this week. The tides are favorable this week with a mild early morning outgoing followed up by a bit stronger afternoon incoming. And that movement will also help clear the cloudy tidal conditions.
BACKWATER: Look for water clarity conditions to clear rapidly as things settle down after the weekend “blow”. As the water clears you’ll want to explore the possibility of the pelagics (mackerel, bluefish, little tunny) re-entering the Passes and feeding especially on the late morning incoming tides. Working them with tipped flashy jigs pulled quickly should provide some exciting action. Off the faster moving water in the first and last hours of that same incoming tide might find some pompano feeding in the shallower regions. Pomps will take a tipped jig worked off the bottom. In the more remote backwaters, there is good snook action as the water warms, in venues like Johnson and Rookery Bays working pilchards, post shower, right into the shallower current flow edges on the early morning incoming tide. Most of the snook yet are the smaller juveniles so take care on release. The bigger snook will show more actively as the water warms in the months ahead. Best target now will be the improving size of the mangrove snapper showing along most of the mangrove edges and jumping on fresh shrimp baits worked into and under mangrove edge structure.
NEARSHORE: This should be a banner week for pelagics (mackerel, bluefish, jacks and little tunny) nearshore with cleaner water and no storms. Good starting points would be the barges just off the Capri Channel out to the Sea Buoy and the reefs off the Marco hotels known as the “First Reef”.Both of these locales will have bait schools that draw and hold the predators . Set up with a chum effort flowing into the structure and working tipped jigs up near the surface with a fast retrieve. Once action starts it will be consistent as long as the chum lasts. If the little tinny show, might want to upgrade the tackle and switch over to cut bait. Fresh mackerel will do just fine. Bottom action for snapper awaits at both the Walton Reef located off Caxambas Pass and the Marco Five Mile Reef. Here, you’ll want to work weighted jigs tipped with shrimp just off the bottom under a deep set chum effort. Chances now are excellent for a nice take of both lane and mangrove snapper as the water warms and bait schools hold in these spots.
OFFSHORE: Wind and sea conditions are favorable if you want to chance that long run for red grouper. Long haul to the hard bottom 30+ miles west but well worth the effort for a crew that can get into harvestable red grouper. Need a bait well with live pinfish, some stout tackle and a good tide …….and all of that should be available this week. Elsewhere out here, the closer in wrecks that are holding bait are excellent spots to work for yellowtail snapper. Unique method of catching these delectable fish……..set up with serious chum effort and then freeline pieces of the chum itself with no weight into the slick with the bail open on your reel. The snapper will take the bit and run like the devil, swallowing as they go,……..count to ten and close the bail and hang on. Great fight and even better on the table.