April 6th 2018 Fishing Report
CONDITIONS: Coming week holds pleasant weather……a pattern of 65-70 degree morning wake ups and mid eighty late afternoons. No rain predicted. Winds predominately out of the SE ……calm mornings and afternoons with typical late day gusty periods. And all of that NICE is setting in the middle of a worsening red tide event here. Evidence is apparent in the choking / tickling cough that erupts when you are near to spraying gulf water (boat wake, aerator,). However the severity level seemingly has not elevated or we would see floating dead fish just about everywhere.But definitely an irritant…..and we don’t know what effect this has on the fishing quality! Back to the conditions……the tide will definitely be a factor this period….the morning outgoing tides through Monday are virtually non-existant and the afternoon incomings are not much better. The water temperature continues to inch up and expect it to hold in the range of 72 to 74.
BACKWATER: Spring is beginning to show fairly well in the backwaters as evidenced by the steady activity of the Spanish Mackerel. Pattern of activity is consistent; in the Passes they will show as the incoming tides take hold and feed ferociously both deep and chasing bait schools up to the surface. Work them with tipped flashy jigs rigged on wire leader on a very fast jigging motion as you retrieve. Alternatively, you can troll with those jigs or flashy spoons at about 4 knots on a perimeter of the bait eruption sites. Elsewhere, we are beginning to see other signs of piscatorial spring…… flounder are showing up is shallow water areas that have a sandy base and are easily catchable with shrimp or cut crab bounced along the bottom on a drift. Also, beginning to see the bigger mangrove snapper showing on shallower current points and will be active on either tide. Snapper will be super active on a shrimp tail worked on a jig head with the optimum period for the bigger snapper will be an hour before and after slack water…….when the faster tides slow down. The snook activity is also accelerating with lots of juveniles working the faster current points in spots like Rookery Bay flats and Johnson Bay creeks. The snook are almost exclusively taking live pilchards after being teased with a shower of same.
NEARSHORE: With winds and storms well under control this period nearshore will be comfortably accessible. Look for the same mackerel as described for the backwater to be taking place on both the first reef spots as well as the “barges” that line Capri Pass. Birds activity will be the key to the mackerel (and bluefish) presence. Can work with working chum anchored up current of structure with tipped jigs on wire or on a troll towing a flashy artificial on the perimeters of the numerous bait eruptions. Snook will be showing late period in the afternoons along the beaches on that faster incoming and taking live bait worked just outside the surf line. Look for lane and mangrove snapper on the Walton Reef and the Five Mile on both tides where there is good water flow. Best here is working weighted tipped jigs under a good chum effort.
OFFSHORE: Ditto on conditions out here. Great chance for a comfortable and safe long run deep for the treasured red grouper. Need 70+ feet of water minimum showing a hard bottom and working a live pinfish, sand perch or cut ladyfish tight to the bottom outcroppings on a tidal drift. Need to ratchet down the drag of the major tackle to keep the hooked and fleeting grouper from reaching his lair…….for his survival and your disappointment. You can catch red grouper from 45-50’ going west but you’re chances on landing a 20” keeper are almost impossible. There are gag grouper on either spots but the species is closed for retention until June 1 this year. The mid range wrecks (10-20 miles) that hold bait are seeing the arrival of smaller kings and even a few cobia as the migration from the Keys to the Upper Gulf begins. Set up with small runners on wire leader under chum for the kings and be ready with live bait at the ready for casting to surface cruising cobia. Last point: stone crab traps will all be pulled by 4/15 and there goes your target points for tripletail……take advantage of the good weather this week and get out there.