Weather is getting hot, and so is the fishing
It’s getting hot, as is the spring fishing, so if you’re a multi-species inshore angler, the hardest thing is to decide what to go after. Right now tarpon and snook are the biggest draw but trout and redfishing are also surprisingly good.
We’ll have tarpon and snook at the beaches, and tarpon in and around the passes, in the river, bays, as well as the shallow flats of Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound. As it gets hotter, the main body of tarpon will eventually move into the harbor, with some still patrolling the passes, others hugging the coastline often very close to the beach.
Small canal tarpon are also becoming very active in northwest canal systems and for some reason right around 8:30 in the morning is when they are most active and catchable. Seems they enjoy sleeping in. Small shiners catch them and tiny jigs and small baitfish imitation flies work for the artificial lure angler.
Approach beach snook before sunup, throwing plugs or bucktails and making long casts along the beach surf zone. Make sure to dress for the occasion covering as much skin as possible and spraying the rest that can’t be covered. Depending on wind direction, the bugs can be bad like typical Southwest Florida summer bad or much, much, worse, like 10,000 Islands bad, which are probably the worst in the state. Brutal!
To sight fish these beach snook you’ll need the sun so sleep in and save your hide, but like before, dress for the occasion. Blue skies call for light blue shirts and light pants or shorts to help blend in the background as the fish see very well in the clear shallow waters as you stalk them.
Your last option for a real beach trophy is to be on scene at night when the big fish come out to play. Use your tide chart and pick a night with strong tides and lots of water movement. Make sure to bug proof yourself and carry a few favorite plugs, which should include a loud and strongly built top-water plug and a large sized stick bait like a Bomber Long A or a Rapala X-Rap. Remember, parallel to the beach casts are more productive. I’m covering water from hip deep to right in the suds and don’t be surprised if a tarpon or shark crushes your plug, adding to the fun. Wading in and around the surf in Southwest Florida, in springtime, especially near a sharky pass and especially at night, is a good way to get your picture in the paper for the wrong reason.
Find some good grass flats and cover water quietly wind drifting, occasionally correcting course with the electric, with a couple shrimp under floats out back while casting ultra-lite paddle tails on jig heads, not only picking up nice trout but drag-screaming bonnet head sharks.
Lots of nice sized trout are being taken this spring and it’s a good time to bag a gator on a lure. My hands down favorite is a large 3-hook model Heddon Super Spook in chrome or bone colors fished using long casts on the flats or around oyster bars. Think super quiet boat control and starting an hour or earlier before sunrise.
Permit fishing gets better and better each year when hunting nearshore wrecks with small crabs, which might get you hooked up to a 40-pound sized, hard pulling chrome trophy. Permit’s little cousin the pompano are also looking for your pompano jigs or sand fleas, if you have a supply. Tip your jigs with small bits of fresh shrimp, GULP or Fish Bites pieces.
What you catch offshore will depend on traveling weather and the size of your fuel tanks. Go out far enough this time of year to find tuna and even sailfish, or closer in reefs for red grouper, various snappers, cobia, kings and an occasional super-sized snook.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. You an contact him at 239-282-9434 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.