Local Fishing Report
Gulf of Mexico
April is a great month to be offshore in Southwest Florida because there are lots of fishing options. The peak of the king mackerel and Spanish mackerel runs should occur this month. Huge schools of Spanish mackerel will be found in locations ranging from right along the beach out to 15 or 20 miles offshore. King mackerel, the larger cousins of the Spanish mackerel, might be found anywhere from about a mile offshore on out to 30 or 40 miles from the beach. Both species are schooling fish which rarely travel alone so the action is often hot and heavy when either variety is located. Trollers consistently take the most Spanish mackerel and king mackerel, but live bait anglers often catch the largest kings. Don't be surprised if you hear about some bluefish being caught this month too since schools of these hard-fighting sharp-toothed fish often show up around the passes in April. Wrecks and artificial reefs will be great spots to wet a line this month because barracuda, permit, goliath grouper and mangrove snapper all begin to bunch up on these sites in the spring. April can be a very good month for mangrove snapper fishing on ledges from 50 to 80 feet of water, and a fair number of red grouper will be caught this month as well.
Rapidly warming water has fish on the move in Charlotte Harbor. Trout are fanning out onto the flats, where they are joined by cruising cobia and bonnethead sharks. Some blacktip, blacknose, spinner, lemon and bull sharks are here now, but more will appear later this month and can be targeted along the edges of flats and bars, especially in the area between Cape Haze Point and the ICW. Redfish and snook are moving out of the rivers and canal systems and are traveling outbound along the mangroves on both sides of the harbor. As the water temps continue to climb these fish will begin to feed more on shiners and less on shrimp, a transition that's already underway. Canal, creek and bridge fishing for sheepshead and black drum is slowing down, but some of each will be taken this month. Inland fishing for Spanish mackerel has been off-and-on for several weeks, but will switch into "full-on" mode any time now, offering hot action for anglers working the artificial reefs, the Cape Haze Bar and anywhere schools of bait are present. We found a few tarpon in March, but we’ll see many more this month as tarpon season begins to pick up steam.
*Triggerfish season opens January 1, 2018 (closed all of 2017!!)
*Greater Amberjack season closed March 24 in Federal Waters, opens January 1, 2018
*Snook season opened March 1, closes May 1
Let's Go Fishing!
Capt. Ralph Allen