BACKCOUNTRY / BAY / INSHORE:
With the bay full of bait, from squid to greenbacks, it’s shaping up to be a great season. The speckled trout are settled into their normal pattern of feeding on top and very shallow early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Top water lures during the first couple of hours after day light will produce plenty of exciting top-water action. When the sun gets higher in the sky, switch to suspending lures, soft plastics or live bait. Don’t forget that the redfish will be in most of the same areas as the trout and feeding on the same bait. Try casting a spoon for the redfish, if you see them, working along the flats, or if you are fishing around docks and other structures. In the pass and around the bridges some bigger bull reds are being caught along with a few large black drum on crabs. The flounder have moved back into the bay and along the beaches and can be caught on jigs tipped with soft plastic paddle tails, bull minnows, and live shrimp; fish for them on the bottom near ledges. Lots of Spanish mackerel are being caught all over the bay and on the beach. They will take lures trolled or casted and live or cut bait. Pompano are being caught in the surf in 2-6 feet of water with a shrimp tipped pompano jig, small shrimp, or sand fleas (live or dead.) King mackerel are being caught on the beaches and around the inshore wrecks and buoys by trolling or flat-lining a live cigar minnow or other bigger live bait. After a late season cold snap last month, the cobia are moving through well and are being caught site fishing down the beach with cobia jigs, live eels, mullet, and crabs. The tarpon are here as well, but are very tough to get to bite if there is boat traffic or fishing pressure. As always, there are mangrove snapper and sheepshead to be caught around the jetties and shallow wrecks using very light weight bottom rigs on light tackle; live shrimp works best, but fiddler crabs and cut bait will work too.
There are plenty of big gear-busting amberjack being caught on the wrecks using anything from cut bait to jigs. Trigger fish, red snapper and gag grouper are everywhere, but they can’t be kept. There are still plenty of red and black grouper, scamp, black snapper, bee-liners and mangrove snapper to catch. Be sure to check the ever-changing regulations before you head out on the water so that there isn’t any confusion.
The weather is perfect, the water is beautiful, and the fishing is on fire, so grab some family and friends and head to the water to enjoy all that our waters have to offer. Don’t forget to keep only what you are going to eat soon and leave no trace.
See you there!
CAPT. DARYL SHUMATE
Liquid Native Charters