By Captain Phil Muldrow
Water temperatures are now real close to 70 degrees along the immediate coast but are still in the low to mid 60’s offshore. Between cold fronts, upper air disturbances, and low pressure systems, our inshore action is outstanding. Trout, trout, and more trout. Literally tons of small specks but just enough keepers to please everyone. Right now it’s 10-15 shorts per 1 keeper. Most folks aren’t complaining and enjoying the constant action. Granted, the bite is not every day and not everywhere. The fish are still in transition and are certainly affected by the above mentioned weather.
While the speckled trout are kings of the hill, other species like redfish, whiting, flounder and Spanish mackerel are lagging behind a bit. It seems that these species are just a month or so behind schedule. By April they too should be quite available and active along the Nature Coast. The outlook for April looks very promising. Our bait shops are ready and the shrimp supply is great. This year’s spring shrimp run is really nice. We used shrimp along with fiddler crabs to try for sheepshead recently and I just had to cull out the bigger ones and boil and even fry them up. Bait is not as issue. Actually the trout are so active that fresh baits are not necessary. If you can catch a flat and calm day don’t forget to try topwater plugs for the bigger trout. Of course all the cork rigs are also working well.
As far as where to fish, hopefully by April the fish will be back in their normal feeding grounds for the spring and early summer season. You know, trout on the flats and banks, reds on the bars and rocky points, Spanish mackerel on Seahorse Reef, whiting and sand trout in the deeper channels and possibly flounder just off the oyster bar systems. If the bait run is a good one from the south, keep an eye to the sky. Fish the birds. They are where the bait is. They’ve also had a long and tough winter and are mighty hungry.
While the inshore report/outlook is a good one this month, our offshore action and outlook is still very slow. Our sheepshead bite was just so-so and should be over by April. Red grouper are still way out and actually might not come on strong until late May or June. Gags will be available but only for catch and release until July 1. Cobia, AJ’s and kingfish are also behind schedule due to our long winter. Actually, this winter was about average. We’ve been spoiled with more Indian summer-type winters in the last 10 years or so.
Hope everyone has a nice Easter. Good luck and good fishing! See you next month, “if nothin’ don’t happen!”
Captain Phil Muldrow
Native Son Charters, Inc.
Cedar Key, Florida