By Neil Taylor and capmel.com kayak fishing staff contributors
Around the state:
This, the fifth month of the year, often one of the best there is. Will it be smokin’ hot? Will it remain mild? For north Florida a golden month for sure. For central Florida on south: Usually marks the start of a long, hot summer. The opportunities are good but for many of us, the shift to fishing at 5AM is here, not near.
The Tampa Bay region–
The return of: Pompano and drum. Seasonal possibilities: Hopeful for a much better year after poaching crushed our opportunities for pompano last year.
You name it: We’ve got it. Everything either settles in or passes by the Tampa Bay region in the month of April. A sun higher in the sky but not at peak intensity and the recent return of the hordes of baitfish schools will provide the recipe for incredible kayak fishing action inshore, off the beaches and way inside the Tampa Bay estuary.
Redfish should finally collect in larger schools, something that was expected but didn’t happen last month. There are a lot of redfish around but in “packs” instead of wake-pushing schools.
Speckled trout are going to finally tail off toward the end of the month, but expect them to remain cooperative earlier in the month. Find the baitfish, find the trout. As it was in April: Go early or go late. The very best action will be when the sun is low in the sky to the east or west. Anyplace with bubbled up baitfish or hovering birds will probably have trout in those waters.
In the Southwest “Suncoast” area of Florida, Steve Gibson with Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing:
I look for improved spotted seatrout action on the deep
grass of Sarasota Bay along the east and west sides. Snook should
cooperated at dawn around docks and seawalls. In addition, snook
action should be good at night around lighted docks along the east and
west sides of the bay. A few juvenile tarpon are showing up around the
lights and offer good possibilities.
In fresh water, I look for good action on bass, bluegill and channel
catfish in Lake Manatee and on the Manatee River. Southern trips to
east of Naples could result in peacock bass, largemouth bass, large
bluegill and Mayan cichlid.
The East coast of Florida
Go earlier or later in the day. Winds tend to pick up mid-afternoon and then die down later in the day. Good numbers of redfish, trout, and sheepshead will be found on the grass flats near sand holes and drop offs in all the Lagoon system. In 1 – 2 feet of water you will find redfish and larger trout. Look for bull reds in deeper waters, 4 – 5 feet, along with black drum and trout. Concentrate on points, bends, and small. Look for bait pods getting crushed. The topwater action will be good. Use subsurface soft plastics as the sun gets higher and the topwater action slows. Flounder can be found on sandy or muddy ledges.
In the Big Bend of Florida’s Panhandle, What we have been waiting for for months: Spring weather! Recent heavy downpours may hinder the start of the month but expect great action for Panhandle kayak fishing when things clear. There will be great catches of trout, redfish and flounder. We will also have our offshore gang hitting up reef species. Call Rob or Brad to talk over the opportunities around Wakulla and Panama City. To see Rob’s operation, check out: 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/
In Northeast Florida: A secret that most of us already know: May is outstanding fishing around Jacksonville, NE Florida and SE Georgia. The jackets will be put away for months and our people will be back out in big numbers. We have great populations of fish and fairly light pressure on them. Make a visit and fish our murky waters for some fantastic action and very mature fish. What will you catch? Depends on where you go. We have sheepshead, flounder, redfish and trout which are very reliable. Black drum are also an option if you know where to find them.
In the greater South Florida area: Things are great in South Florida. The weather. The species to target. It is all great for opportunities for the kayak angler. We have snook and other inshore species. We have the offshore targets for those with the right equipment and knowledge. Too many people are taking risks that they are not ready for. To get out into the deep water and fight offshore species, you should have a safety plan in place. Wearing a life vest is simply not enough. Can you successfully achieve a deep water re-entry? Do you have your gear secured so you do not lose everything when you flip over? Do you know how to handle an angry fish in a tiny boat? For those who have the right skills, this is a thrilling way to try out some extreme fishing. Our kayak anglers get some exercise, catch some amazing fish and have some great stories to tell. But this kind of fishing is not for the beginner.
The tip of the month:
Invest in weedless jigheads. I use The Edje. Floating grasses will be something to contend with during the upcoming months. Learn to screw the nose of your bait in gently so it holds on multiple strikes and see just how much better you can negotiate the floating weeds, and thick turtle grass, without an exposed hook!
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!
Neil Taylor, www.capmel.com site administrator