Essentially, this is an extension of last month and I’ll continue to work the same type pattern. The inshore bite around outer shorelines and adjacent bar systems is good. However, for many, tarpon are the main emphasis. Fish migrating north out of the keys and everglades will be grouped up along the beaches from Sanibel Island to Englewood. In addition, it’s not unusual to see large pods staged up on the hill and upper harbor just inside Boca Grande Pass.
As it’s a good area to get a shot on fly, I’ll typically fish the shallower sandy bottom off Murdock Point between Captiva and Boca Grande pass. Now, be prepared for a crowd as this limited window brings a mix of excitement and boat traffic. In Particular, Boca Grande Pass and the beach north to Gasparilla Pass gets real busy. For most, live crabs and threadfin herring are the baits of choice.
On the other hand, as many are drawn to the tarpon bite, inshore bars and shorelines get ignored and provide a chance to get away from the crowds. Something that’s not that easy to find anymore. With moderate water temperatures, snook, redfish, and good size trout are active. Furthermore, the more distance you can put between your boat and the passes the better.
Snook are also on the beaches right now and they’re just as easy to fish without a boat as with one. In fact, this is one of the best times of year to fish from land as snook are easily within reach as they like to move up and down the trough where the surf meets the sand. Of course, first light is the best time to fish and I can’t think of a better way to start the day.
All year, I’ve been working Pine Island Sound and have been seeing good numbers of redfish and big trout. No doubt, the closed harvest has made a big difference. This time of year, I like to concentrate on grass flats that receive flow from the Intracoastal Waterway with its clean oxygenated water pulled from the gulf. Across the harbor, shorelines and adjacent flats where Bull Bay intersects with Gasparilla sound can be good as this entire area is influenced by both Little Gasparilla and Boca Grande Pass.
Even though it’s starting to warm up, there’s still a good spotted sea trout bite going on if you get out early. Deeper flats in three to four feet with clean high salinity water content will fish best. Throwing top water first thing in the morning is a great way to look for trout and they’re generally very cooperative.
Sharks are prevalent throughout the harbor right now and there’s a good chance of seeing anything from a small bonnet head cruising the flats to a large bull or hammerhead anywhere in the vicinity of the tarpon. Also, black tips are around in good numbers and are lots of fun. Just drop a bait, live or cut, anywhere around one of the many schools of threadfin herring scattered throughout the harbor.