GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Billy Nobles, left, with "Reel Animals" partner Mike Anderson.
As spring is quickly approaching, it seems that some of the fish think it's already here. With Bay waters in the high 60s and low 70s, the big gator trout seem to be almost everywhere. My partner, captain Mike, had a client catch a 32-incher on Wednesday, along with several in the high 20s. My personal best this week was a 27-inch trout.
The snook bite is starting to heat up, as well, with the linesiders making their way out of the rivers and estuaries to the back country, getting ready to do their spring thing. Large white bait seems to be the key on trout and snook, but don't overlook the pinfish. Last week, pinfish about the size of a silver dollar were gold on larger trout. Hook them just above the anal vent to prevent them from diving into the grass.
Offshore, the grouper fishery appears to be stronger than I have ever seen. Keeper-size gags are being caught and released from residential docks, from the beaches and out as far as you want to run. The mangrove snapper bite remains nothing short of spectacular. We are using shrimp and cut sardines on a jig head, letting it drift down the water column.
The large amberjack and kings are still on the near-shore and offshore wrecks. On light tackle and spinning gear, it just doesn't get any better. A 40- to 50-pound amberjack exploding on a topwater plug is almost heart-stopping.