Hernando County Report By: Capt. Joel Gant

Game On Fish On!

Finally, fishheads, this is what we’ve all been waiting for–great fishing and great weather. With the fishing in March so good, April will be even more exciting. The cold fronts should be pretty much over, but we still have cooler days. Many species will be on the move this month in our Nature Coast.

Offshore, look for migrating fish like kingfish, shark and cobia to be on your favorite deep structure spots. When bottom fishing, try putting out a free lined bait either a live pinfish, whitebait or frozen dead bait like a threadfin on a stinger rig. Also, put out a chum bag to get a good slick out. Any of these fish, when hooked, will give one heck of a fight. Also, offshore, we are still catching (and releasing) some big gag groupers. On some recent charters, we were bottom fishing and came across some big bull redfish. One of these 34-inch plus fish was caught and landed on 15-pound line and a 3/0 hook (inshore tackle). There are plenty of white grunts on hand to catch and take home to eat.

Inshore, look for the redfish and trout to be in the skinny grass flats or rocky bottom areas. They should be in two to six feet of water. Anything from top water crank baits to jigs can entice a hard fight. Live baits like shrimp or white baits will also produce a bite.

Nearshore, look for the Spanish mackerel to school up on the white bait. Try to match the hatch with a ¼ ounce jig and Zoom jerk bait. Don’t be afraid to work the bait fast–the macks like a fast-moving bait. Use a steel leader only if you have to–it seems the bite slows when using a leader. Again, chumming the water will bring the macks in for the attack.

Don’t forget, the tarpon will begin to show up this time of year. When fishing for tarpon, be very considerate of the other boats; please don’t go on a plane through the middle of them. These guides around Chaz and Homosassa are working for their clients. When you see a lot of boats in the area, slow down and idle in. Tackle for tarpon can be anything from flyrods to conventional tackle, and from live to artificial baits. The key here is patience.

Get out there on the water and make some memories with friends and family!