CONDITIONS: Beginning the transition into full blown tropical weather as we see afternoon storms brewing this week and the weather flow going west to east. Means afternoon and evening “thunder-bangers”. Will influence the fishing quality with the storms fresh water intrusion changing the salinity levels and, with sustained periods of west and northwest wind, we will be paying the price with riled (dirty) water. This week will also bring some enormous spring tides as we pass through a new moon phase. All the tides coming off this weekend’s new moon will be strong but especially the weekend PM outgoing that will outgoing tides with a 4+’ range. You’ll want to work around that anomaly. The water temp will keep inching up as the daytime air temperatures continue to increase. Look for 80 degree water during afternoons this week.
BACKWATER: With the exception of the outstanding tarpon action, you’d have to classify the fishing back inside as inconsistent. More of that later; let’s cover the tarpon action first. It’s probably the best tarpon season here in the last 5/6 years. The tarpon are numerous and following a set pattern of feeding. The trailing edges of both Capri and Caxambas Passes have been drawing top action in the deeper holes on either tide with the simple process of setting cut catfish on the bottom in good water flow on both tides albeit mornings seem a tad better. The smaller species backwater fishing, as stated, is inconsistent. One day it will be lights out on pompano, trout and mackerel and the very next day with mimicked conditions….nada! Like somebody turned the switch. But you gotta keep trying. Pompano still rule the roost as to popularity and can be worked in all three Passes, in the early and late stages of either tide with small tipped jigs worked into the current flow on the bottom. Pomps are a school fish, so if you’re lucky enough to tie into a couple on a drift, double back and do it again. Spanish mackerel are another top spring target and can show, again, in the three passes, in fast water chasing top water bait. Look for bird action and you’ll find the marks with tipped flashy top water jigs pulled quickly. Spec trout would be another spring favorite. Grass flats in Johnson, Rookery and Addison Bays in 4-6′ of water on a drift with shrimp under a popper will get you into the action if the bite is “on”.
NEARSHORE: Condition here could be surprisingly testy this week with the inshore continued tough winds. Note: winds / gusts tend to be stronger within 0-6/7 miles of the island with winds / gusts caused by the differential between land temps and gulf temps.Beyond circa 7 miles the land temps are not a factor. So be careful. Mackerel action is present nearshore but tends to be a bit deeper than the first and second line of reefs. Look for good to very good mackerel action just outside the Capri Sea Buoy at the barges. Need to be close in and get a good chum effort going then work tipped flashy jig into the prevailing tidal current. Good chance for bluefish and even some small kingfish in the mix. Bottom fishing best on mangrove / lane snapper at the Walton Reef and the Five Mile Reef complex working weighted tipped jigs into structure.
OFFSHORE: As mentioned previously; better sea conditions out here than closer inshore….but still caution especially when T-storms around. Mid range reefs and wrecks for good surface pelagic action (mackerel, bluefish, little runny and small kings). Faster tides this week will improve the bite working top water tipped jigs under spreading chum. Bottom action will thrive on the chum spread which draws snapper and other bottom dwellers up into slick and baits. Use either freelined chum bits into the chum or use weighted tipped jigs tight to the bottom. Deep wrecks seeing good action on migrating major pelagics (kingfish, cobia, permit and sharks) All on live bait juiced up with a good chum effort.