At this point, options around our bays and sounds are beginning to open up. With water temperatures climbing out of the 60’s and bait beginning to move in from offshore the dynamics of our estuarine system are definitely in transition. After the slim pickings of winter, snook, redfish, and the spotted sea trout will be looking to add some fat from the oil and protein the scaled sardine and threadfin herring provide. For me, that means moving away from deep inside backcountry creek systems to outside shoreline edges that border open water. Most likely, I’ll turn my attention towards spring snook while keeping an eye out for some early migrating tarpon.

As the weather warms, negative tides diminish and more water surrounds mangrove shorelines, snook should be on the move throughout the harbor. To the north, outside Tippecanoe Bay on the Hog Island side could be good as fish make their way out of the Myakka River. Likewise, the northern end of the West Wall from Cattle Dock Point south is good shoreline. In fact, the entire West Wall is worth a look. A bit further south, the outside shoreline between Turtle Bay and Bull Bay, between Gallagher’s cut and the southern end of Cayo Pelau, has real good potential.

Look for redfish and trout to be hanging out on flats that have healthy sea grass, particularly turtle grass, and in close proximity to a pass. Because, when the scaled sardines move in they tend to hold in those particular areas. The flats off Bokeelia at the north end of Pine Island Sound and outside Three Sisters, Devilfish Key, and Cayo Pelau on the Boca Grande Side tend to hold good numbers.

Furthermore, the bar systems that run along both the east and west sides of the harbor should provide shots at both jack crevalle and cobia. Jacks can be seen pushing water on top of the bars and cobia are typically just off the outside edge.

It may be a bit early, but after what seemed like a long winter, it’s time to start scouting for signs of tarpon. Naturally, they’ll move up the beaches and will duck inside the passes lying up in sand holes on their way north. It’s down there in Pine Island Sound, but Foster’s Bay just north of Redfish Pass is a good place to start. From there, I like exploring the deeper holes toward the eastern side between Demere and Panther Key. It’s a lot of real estate, but if the wind will allow, it’s an easy drift.

Red fish tail

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