Well howdy Boys and Girls of the fishin world. There is plenty to talk about. Yes, let’s start with the sort of bad news Red Tide, Yes, the Red tide is staying around, the truth is it has not really left us. And continues to be in back ground to low concentrations although the waters of South west Florida, so let’s hope this stays low. But do not be surprised if you are out fishing and your throat starts to get scratchy.
Good news is that is it not killing fish at this point but could happen any day.
The good news is that Bass fishing is hitting an all-time high I think a lot of people are heading back to the lakes for some good old fashioned Bass fun. Soft plastics worms are still doing as good as they were years ago and the big thing lately is Frogs yes frogs weather used as top water or with a weight on a Carolina rig Frogs are producing some Big Bass 5 to 7 pound or better. Here is a neat trick the Ribbet Frog is one of the better top water lures for Snook, Yes, the Ribbet has paddle tail style feet on it and rigged weedless can be cast right up under the mangroves. And give it a light pop, then a slow steady retrieve just fast enough to get the feet splashing and hang on Snook on! Keep in mind as with all top water lures, wait before you set the hook until you feel the weight of the Snook/any other fish, on the line. Humans are quick and you will pull the lure out of the fish’s mouth before the fish can bite down on the lure causing you to miss the hit. So, wait until you fell the weight of the fish.
Now the schools of fish you will hear about are Red fish, big schools of oversize reds have been hanging out in Pine Islands sound and just south of Matlacha. The other big fish schooling is black drum these Monster fish average of 40 pound have been seen in the Harbor just north of Bokeelia and up to the 20-foot hole on the north end. And of Course, the Tarpon. Yes, schools of Tarpon are more common as the Tarpon first enter the Harbor during the spring. I like to run the outside of the bar on the west side from Cape Haze north in 6 feet of water watching under the water for dozens or hundreds of Tarpon which I believe are there to meet and greet their friends as they come in from the gulf, maybe to start picking mates for the spawn.
How to catch some fish this time of year lets go over the bait types, and this time of year white bait is your first choice, White bait is really a hard-scaled Sardine. Or Green back. Much thicker and hardier than other species of similar baits, Use an Octopus 2/0 hook rigged across the bridge of the fish’s nose for best results. Next best bait is pin fish, Pin Fish get their name not from body shape but from the dorsal fins. The dorsal fins are very sharp like needles and I would say at one time they were called pin cushion fish, shorten to pin fish. When I am using a Jig head with pin fish I hook them across the back and let them flop on the bottom making a fuss and kicking up sand. We call that a Red Fish Sundae,
If I am using a hook with a leader and a sinker I will place the hook into the Pin fish across trough the fish just above the Anal opening, this allow the Pin fish to pull against the weight, while remaining up right. If you wish to cast and retrieve a pin fish hook them up through the Jaw So it will swim along with the pull of your line.
Tarpon how and where well watch for School of lady fish or Spanish mackerel, and bait fish or schooling fish is going to attract Tarpon, Like a fast food sign for a teenager. Now we all want to cast at the Tarpon with a blue crab or a larger thread-fin herring, which is part of the group of fish people call white bait, The Thread fin has a green back, but it is brighter color green and has black dots on the back in the green color, the easiest way to tell a Green back from a Thread fin is the dorsal fin The Thread fin has a long extension on the back of the dorsal like you see on a Tarpon, The green back has a short dorsal fin.
While we want to cast at the Tarpon your best bet for a hook up is to cast out a Thread fin or crab about 4 feet below a bobber/float, this can be hard if not impossible to cast so often I will drop the bait off the side of the boat and then us the motor with my bail open to get away from the bait. Yes, this is the time you will catch most if not all of your Tarpon on. Hey a watched pot thing maybe.
If you are trying to cast at Tarpon think like skeet shooting, you do not shoot at the skeet you lead it shooting in front of the skeet to where it will be. Same thing when I cast at Tarpon, I see which way the fish is moving when it rolls and cast in front of that. Hoping to get my bait just in front of where the Tarpon “will” be. The more violent the Tarpon is rolling like when it rolls if you hear a tail slap, you will hook up, they are angry feeding and really hungry, if it is a very soft or quiet roll, the chances of a hook up are much less. And that is where the bait just sitting there under the float will be way more likely to hook your fish. Try to use a dual drag reel for the one in the rod holder, where you have a controlled free spool then just start reeling to engage the main drag system.
Well good luck I am hoping to have my boat back in the water a get you some fresh water and Salt water spot reports starting next month. I am ready to be back on the water.
Until next month Good luck