Spring conditions are starting to be seen with new migrations of baitfish heading our way. Weather has been warmer than usual, drawing in schools from offshore. A few kingfish have been landed lately. It’s extremely spotty action but could improve by this weekend. Water temperatures are warmer the first 8 miles from shore, so that’s where I would suggest searching for them.
You can feel the coolness in the air once traveling further than ten miles from shore. Sunny days warming the shallower depths are the reason waters are warmer nearshore. After the cold front that will hit us beginning of next week, count on things to totally change. This occurrence is typical during spring transitions. It’s will be like shuffling a migratory deck of cards. As weather warms more fish will follow.
Bottom fishing can still be exciting as this time. Even though the gag grouper season is closed, they can still provide a thrill for visiting anglers. We landed some whoppers last few trips, fishing the depths of 50 plus feet of water. We were targeting hog snapper and grunts with decent success. The gag grouper eventually would come over and take over for a few minutes providing the big action. We were also fortunate to land a few keeper-sized red groupers in these same shallower depths. Their season is open for recreational harvest. Along with all this action, some large American red snapper joined in on the party adding even more excitement to the day. Their season is closed, so they were released as well.
Bottom line: new laws and restriction force angler to let go certain species at specific times. The catch and release part of all this action can be just as rewarding for anglers. Especially if they have never experienced the tug from a big gag grouper or red snapper.