Gulf of Mexico

Mangrove snapper close upApril is a great month to be offshore in Southwest Florida because there are lots of fishing options. Bottom fishing for grouper and snapper continues to be reliably good, but king mackerel and Spanish mackerel showed up early last month due to our warmer than normal Spring and the peaks of their seasonal runs should occur this month. Huge schools of Spanish mackerel can be found just off the beach or out to about 15 or 20 miles offshore. King mackerel, the larger cousins of the Spanish mackerel, might be found anywhere from 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 can be 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 blackfin tuna catches too since last year saw quite a few blackfins taken during the early part of the spring king run, and since at least one sailfish was caught last month so that’s at least a slim possibility too. For yet another option, wrecks and artificial reefs are holding barracuda, permit, goliath grouper and mangrove snapper.

 

Charlotte Harbor

Man holding sheepshead fishA warmer than normal spring has seasonal fisheries starting early in Charlotte Harbor this year. Trout, snook and redfish are acting like it’s summer already. Tarpon will probably get seriously started soon too. Spanish mackerel have been off-and-on in the harbor since early March and their numbers should go up and up this month. We’ve seen more pompano this spring than for the last few years and there have been small permit mixed in with them. There have also been more bonnethead sharks on the flats than any spring in recent memory, and we’ve caught more cobia than normal this year too. It has been a good winter for sheepshead, but they are starting to wind down now that their spawning run is coming to an end. Shark fishing for blacktips, spinners, bulls, blacknoses and small hammerheads will really crank up this month.