After what we’ve been through the last two months, hopefully we can all feel comfortable getting back out because without a doubt, this is one of the best months to be on the water. Bait, scaled sardines and threadfin herring, will be scattered throughout the area, water temperatures will be right, and all kinds of game fish species will be active. Tarpon, redfish, snook, sharks, cobia, jack crevalle, spotted sea trout, and Spanish mackerel are all possible.

Look for tarpon on the beaches and around all Gulf Island passes. Shark fishing should be good in the harbor near artificial reefs like the one off Cape Haze Point. Cobia should be on outside bar systems like the east and west walls.

Due to warming water temperatures, look for the best spotted sea trout bite to be in a bit deeper water, three to four feet, just off the intracoastal waterway. Spanish mackerel should be in the vicinity off all harbor markers as well as artificial reef systems.

Redfish could be roaming just about any flat or shoreline. Mullet schools are a good indicator when hunting redfish. They like sticking close as the mullet kick up all kinds of free scraps from the bottom.

Most likely, I’ll spend my time working backcountry shorelines for snook or setting up off the beach waiting on strings of tarpon. This is a great time to sight fish big snook as they’re on the move in full spring transition. By on the move, I’m referring to actively cruising shorelines looking for food. After the slim pickings of winter, they need to fatten up as the summer spawn approaches.

After looking inside for tarpon last month, I’ll slip outside to the beach now. For throwing fly, I like coming out Captiva Pass and working my way north to Murdock Point outside Cayo Costa. I like to set up in five to ten feet adjacent to sand for better visibility. I’ll anchor with a quick release system that allows me to free my anchor if needed upon hookup. The anchor’s attached to a float for retrieval.

Here, it’s important to work with other anchored skiffs and courtesy is key. Take a few minutes to survey where every one is posted up and find a spot where you won’t cut someone off. The fish are typically heading north toward Boca Grande Pass. Even in the back of the line, you’ll get your shots. Here, the skiffs ahead of you will even let you know when a group is headed your way and on a calm clear day you can see them coming from a long way off.

Red fish tail

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