BACKCOUNTRY / BAY / INSHORE:
Spring has kicked in and the conditions are great for being on the water. Speckled trout are on the flats feeding on top during the early morning and late evening hours. During the warmer parts of the day, they will feed down lower in the water column. Live bait or soft plastics on a jig head will do just fine. The redfish will be in most of the same areas as the trout but should be found in bigger schools. There’s big schools of redfish running the flats in West Bay; some with as many as 200 fish. You can find them by easing along the banks looking for signs of them feeding. Look for them to be pushing water or working the bottom with their tails in the air; being stealthy is a must. The reds can also be found under the docks, around the bridges, and in the pass. Use a live blue crab floated on top on the outgoing tide and you should have no problem catching a bull red. Sheepshead fishing is in full swing and the inshore and bay wrecks are covered up with them. Small shrimp or crabs fished on very light bottom rigs will do a great job. Right along with the sheepshead, there are plenty of mangrove snapper in the same areas and can be taken on the same baits. Flounder have moved back in the bay and are being caught in the pot holes and on the ledges around the grass flats. Live shrimp, bullminnows, and finger mullet fished on the bottom will produce, but if finding bait is a problem, just go to a white paddle tail jig or similar soft plastic and bounce it on the bottom in those areas and you should have dinner on the line. On the beach the pompano are being caught in the surf on sand fleas, small crabs, small shrimp, and pompano jigs tipped with a piece of shrimp. Look for a small shadow on the bottom to locate them. Spanish mackerel are being caught up and down the beach and in the bays by trolling or casting small jigs or live bait. If the action is slow, try chumming the water a little to get the Spanish feeding behind the boat.
Some really big trigger fish are being caught on the wrecks and you don’t have to go far to find them. Using a standard bottom rig with cut cigar minnows will do just fine; you should get hit before it reaches the bottom. If you can get it to the bottom there are lots of red snapper being caught but the season is closed so they have to be released. There are also lots of amberjack hanging around the wrecks and structure, but they’re closed for harvest along with gag grouper. There are however, plenty of red grouper being caught right along with scamp, and some big mangrove snapper. All of which are really good eating. The cobia bite has slowed on the beach but there are plenty of them to be caught on the wrecks with live bait. There are also some decent king mackerel being caught flat lining live bait around the buoys and structure.
Get on the water and enjoy this weather before the heat shows up and the crowds return to the beaches. See you there!
CAPT. DARYL SHUMATE
Liquid Native Charters