April is here and spring is in full swing. By mid-April snook should be on the way to their spawning areas of May and June.
This year we’ve seen a modest rebound in the population of this prized fish. What’s not clear to me is if the snook population can endure the harvest pressure of the first open season in three years. My opinion is that it can’t. I for one will not harvest snook until at least the next season and even then it will depend on the population numbers gathered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 2015.
Sea trout will be up on the flats, and I expect the bite to be at least as good as it was in March. I’d look for grass beds in the three-foot ranges. Scaled sardines will be the bait of choice; however, a big shrimp hung under a popping cork may work just as well. Big trout catches have been reported from the Weeden Island area by Capt. Sergio Atanes.
Capt. Jason Prieto has reported seeing some nice cobia on the deeper grass at the southern end of the South Shore grass flats. Best bet for cobia is to sight cast a big, scaled sardine or pinfish right in front of the fish. Hold on and use a little heavier tackle. There are some 50-pounders out there.
The South Shore flats are holding scattered small schools of redfish. Look for them in the schools of mullet that roam the area. Pinfish and scaled sardines work best for this great fish. Keeping the noise level down on your boat also improves your odds of catching them.
Spanish mackerel started moving into the bay back in early March and by early April we should be hearing about some good catches. Again, scaled sardines will be the bait of choice. I like to free-line my baits with an extra-long No. 1/0 J-hook, using Ohero 50-pound test fluorocarbon leader.
This time of year I like to mix it up by targeting redfish, snook and trout on the flats and Spanish mackerel in open bay waters. White bait will be my bait of choice.
South Shore has some of the best fishing Florida has to offer. So if you can, get out and enjoy this great place we live in.
Danny Guarino is one of three Ruskin-based fishing guides and charter captains who share this column. He can be reached at (813) 956-2010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.