By Neil Taylor and capmel.com kayak fishing staff contributors
Around the state:
The anticipation of spring is over. It is here. The final grip of winter was a strong one. The theme in everyone’s’ mind: Wind. When will we have any settled weather pattern with extended periods of light wind? When it does, people will be celebrating throughout the state! It has been a touch stretch of weather but some great spring weather should be just ahead for all of us. It’s spring. The wind is going to blow. Get used to it. Baseball begins. Hockey playoffs will get going. April is a good month for fishing and other things.
The Tampa Bay region–
April is the Month Of The Baitfish. “Tens of thousands of tons of baitfish” of different species and sizes flow in and out of the local passes. After months of minimal baitfish occupation of local waters, an abundance exists. Because of this situation, special opportunities arise. Nearly every species that swims these waters will be around in April. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jack crevalle, ladyfish, king mackerel, cobia, pompano and flounder will be available. Sounds easy? It’s easier than doing your taxes! Particularly when you realize that what you really need to know is “follow the birds”. Hovering and diving birds isolate areas of feeding fish. Quickly move to the areas you see this The great weather March brought will extend through April, providing the last month of moderate temperatures before the long stretch of summer. The extended daylight hours, warmth and migration will lead to the return of the masses of baitfish. Little by little, they have returned to the area to start spring but April will hold acres and acres of baitfish schools.
Regardless of your decision on what to fish for: Proximity to the bait will be important. Areas that usually hold redfish or trout will be vacant if there are not food sources there. Cue in on the visual cues: Hovering or diving birds, bubbled up water and surface explosions. Any area near a Gulf pass will have attacking predators pushing the schools of bait to the top. For this kind of action, take along some 40-pound leader to prevent cutoffs. Redfish are tough. Like snook, their numbers are just bad. That makes the opportunities less. Perhaps we will make progress and in a couple of years things get better.
Artificial lures are great year-round but April is one of the best months to build your confidence with these options. With the return of massive baitfish schools even redfish will be “head up” when feeding. The 12 Fathom Mullet becomes king of the Redfish in April. On a 1/8-ounce jighead, the schools of redfish will actually bump heads trying to get to the lure.
April will also provide solid speckled trout action. March was oddly “off” for the larger redfish and trout but April historically has some of the most cooperative feeding of the entire year. Lures don’t have to be moved as painstakingly slow as the cooler or warmest months. Go early or go late for speckled trout.
The best of the rest: Pompano, flounder, spanish and king mackerel will be invading the region in incredible numbers. Again: Following the baitfish, the mackerel and kingfish will spend a lot of the month of April right here in the Tampa Bay area. Pompano will be moving into the passes and big Tampa Bay bridges and will be caught on the Captain Joe Hebert “Silly Willy” (I like yellow best) with a pink teaser. Kept in contact with the bottom, you’ll find out quickly if the pompano are there. Also “in contact with the bottom”: Flounder also follow the baitfish invasion. Prediction: This will be the best flounder fishing we’ve had since early 2005!
Enjoy the tremendous, beautiful month of April!
In the Southwest “Suncoast” area of Florida,
Spotted seatrout, bluefish and Spanish mackerel should continue to hit jigs over the deep grass along the east and west sides of Sarasota Bay. Night snook action is expected to be good around lighted docks — especially for fly fishers. We anticipate redfish activity to increase as the water warms — particularly around Buttonwood Harbor. In fresh water, bluegill, speckled perch, shellcracker and channel catfish will be the main targets on Lake Manatee and the Manatee River. Contribution: Steve Gibson.
The East coast of Florida,
The opportunites are here for spring. Drum, redfish, trout and even flounder. By kayak, the easiest way to quietly sneak up on your prey. We have good fish. Do your work, get in on them.
In the Big Bend of Florida’s Panhandle, Robert Baker at TnT Hideaway on the Wakulla River: http://www.tnthideaway.com/ . If you are going to be in Panama City, stop in and see Brad and his staff at Sunjammers: http://sunjammers.com/ April is usually a great month around here. Try the flats around Panama City, Port St Joe and Tyndall Air Force Base.
In Northeast Florida:
The action will be good this month. Go early. Go to moving water. Get in on the action. Sheepshead are possible. Trout and redfish are probable. A reliable backup: Live shrimp. Areas of moving water might have the best opportunities.
In the greater South Florida area:
Things will remain fantastically strong in the South Florida region. The Everglades to the Keys, the opportunities exist for nearly everything that swims in the Atlantic or Gulf waters. Great action will be had for the deepwater guys and gals who want to try their hand at some really big offshore species. The inshore game only gets better with redfish, trout, snook and tarpon lighting it up in the shallows.
The tip of the month:
The pinfish are back. Pufferfish are also tough on soft plastic baits. What do you do when you are losing plastics on every cast? Switch to hardware. Hard baits like Mirrolures and Aqua Dream spoons hold up to the worst abuse, and eliminate time changing baits “with the tail ripped off.” Rig up an extra rod with some hardware, just in case you need some help surviving The Pinfish Factor.
Need help learning how to kayak fish? Hire one of our guides on staff for your region and take advantage of their knowledge and sharpen your own skills!
Get out and into the action but as always: Be careful out there!