Determining Factors, by Capt. Rachel Cato

Wind and temperature will be your determining factor on where you will fish this month. Inshore you’ll be catching snook and redfish in the backwaters near canals or tucked in protected mangrove shorelines. Spotted Seatrout can be caught in 4-6ft of water depth on grass flats where current moves through and bait can be seen nearby.  Bobbers are often dismissed or overlooked as a helpful tool.  Slipping on a split cork or tying on a bobber will help casting in the wind and slow the bait down.

Scaled sardines are cast netted near the grass flats around Emerson point, channel marker 9 in Terra Ceia Bay or around the deeper waters at the Skyway Fishing Pier.  If you are unsure where to go, look for diving pelicans and moving water.  Cooler water temperatures and clear water will make the bait spooky and harder to catch so chum up-current to ball the bait up before you throw your net.  Choosing a heavier 10ft  1/4in net will help you to not gill all the smaller bait and get down quicker.

On less windy days, you can head to nearshore reefs and target mangrove snapper and sheepshead with live scaled sardines and shrimp.  There’s nothing wrong with picking up some frozen squid to catch a pile of white grunts for a tasty dinner.

I tried a new rod (new to me) last month St. Croix medium fast 7’6″ Triumph. Better for casting distance over my standard medium heavy. I would still stick to the medium heavy for reef and dock fishing because it has a stiffer tip.  If you are missing the fish or not feeling the bites, add a little #5 split shot on the leader at the #1-1/0 Owner mutu light circle hook. For stronger current or deeper water go up to a #1 split shot.  I generally do not go below 30 # fluorocarbon leader because anything lighter can get broken off easier.

Spring is a popular and busy time on the water and sometimes it seems all your favorite spots are taken.  Don’t let that keep you from exploring and trying somewhere new. Fish with the tides, work with the wind and enjoy your time, after all it is just fishing.

Captain Rachel Cato has been a fishing guide out of Palmetto since 2005.  She is on the pro staff with Evinrude through Gulf Coast Marine in Port Charlotte and specializes in catching many species year-round with live bait for up to 6 anglers.  To book your next fishing adventure, call 942- 524-9664 or go to  You can also find her on Facebook at CaptainRachelCharters.