By Neil Taylor and capmel.com kayak fishing staff contributors
Around the state:
Good to go: The month of April, one of the best of the year for fishing. The weather’s good. The water temperature is good. The wind starts to level out (we hope.) Cold no longer, could be some of the best fishing stories all year. The cold weather is over for the year. It didn’t last as long as most years. Summer, not far off.
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 activity and cast in to the fray.
April may just be “the month of endless opportunities”: King mackerel, sheepshead, spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, bluefish, speckled trout, cobia, flounder, snapper and redfish! As the sun climbs higher to the north in the month of April, other things move north as well. Vast schools of baitfish make their way inshore and the big predators follow them on in.
There is perhaps no better month offering great variety throughout the entire calendar year. Sheepshead fishing may be winding down but they are still available by putting live shrimp down on shallow structure. Don’t be surprised if you connect with some great mangrove snapper on your sheepshead quests. Spanish mackerel will be clobbering bait schools and often, the king mackerel will invade and be attacking the spanish mackerel and ladyfish. Bringing a bigger rod along with a wire leader is necessary to stand a chance with the kingfish.
Flounder will make another solid appearance and hopefully be caught in their best numbers in the north coastal area of Pinellas County since early 2005. The south Pinellas Gulf passes and areas just to the “inside” with deep sandy bottom will provide excellent flounder opportunities. The 3-inch 12 Fathom mullet on a 1/4 or 1/8-ounce jighead bumped right on the bottom will get munched by these flatfish laying in ambush blending in with the bottom. But the SlamR and Buzz Tail are no-miss baits for this species.
Speckled trout will be eating best in the early mornings and around sunset with more aggressiveness than they show in the cooler months of the year. The Mullet or the 5-inch SlamR moved steady and smooth just above the grassy bottom areas and troughs will get thumped by impressive sized specks. Don’t forget: April is prime-time for topwater trout around Tampa Bay.
Redfish will emerge from their early spring funk and feed with a vengeance throughout the daylight hours when the water’s moving. All the shallow locations around Safety Harbor, inner Tampa Bay throughout Clearwater and St Petersburg all the way around to the Fort Desoto Park area will have redfish opportunities. Stick to the depths of “two feet or less” and be very quiet in your approach. Use light lures like the 1/8-ounce Joe Jig with the Mullet or SlamR or rig up weedless with The Edje jighead for the thicker turtlegrass bottom areas.
Cobia are an option. Whenever you spot big stingrays, watch for shadows underneath them and don’t make the mistake of using one of your “trout rods” to do battle with the brown bombers. For some predictable steady action, stake out an area around a Gulf pass with 40-pound leader and wait for the sun to rise in the east. As soon as there is enough light shining, the bait schools will be pushed to the top and action should be nonstop for the first hour of the day. These melees are often a mix of mackerel, jacks, ladyfish, bluefish and sometimes even a king mackerel! Enjoy the fishing that April has to offer!
In the Southwest “Suncoast” area of Florida, Steve Gibson with Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing:
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.
The East coast of Florida, Trout and redfish over the areas of grass, sheepshead on the potholes: April has all kinds of options. Drum, targetable year-round will be out carousing again. Out front, many species will be found and caught including flounder, pompano and whiting. Mackerel and bluefish always a possibility, watch for King Mackerel to also cruise by this month.
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 an excellent month here. Possible for a late winter? Maybe be doubtful. It should be very good. The big three: Trout, redfish and flounder.
In Northeast Florida:
We thawed out and got some extra opportunities to close out March. April should be a breakout month for the NE Florida kayak angler. Catching up to our friends in other areas of the state, we will not put our jackets away for the year but we will not have to wear them every day either. Pick a day you want to go and get out and enjoy the action that April should bring in this region. If you do not have a great outing, just rejoice in the weather and the scenery! If you do have a good outing, you probably caught redfish and flounder. King mackerel? Possible.
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!
Coming soon: A kayak by Neil Taylor. The mold is being made. We are designing a winner. Coastal Mojo, The Fishin’ Magician. Stores will carry them. Direct purchases will also be possible. The details will be made available soon. The design is like no other. The decisions, making a boat that fits the market. Making a boat that fills a gap in the market. Comfort. Stability. Affordability.