by Capt. Sam O’Briant
Now as we are entering into the spring season, we are also entering what I call one of the transition months. What this means is that the schools of fish that went south for the winter are starting to move back north. We should start seeing the schools of king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, cobia, and others starting to pass offshore from the middle of March through April.
As the month gets older we will see the schools of Spanish mackerel increase around the passes, in Pine Island Sound, and passing offshore. You should be able to find them in a couple ways. One, keep your eyes open as you are running and look for free jumping fish. This quite often indicates a loosely knit school of Spanish. Another way is to look for pelicans and gulls diving in the same area constantly. When you find one of these situations, take out your spoons or other favorite lure and start casting. The speed of the retrieve can be as fast as you want. Spanish are fast. If you do not want to lose several lures you should probably switch to a wire leader. Spanish have extremely sharp teeth. I have seen them netted and as they were falling in the net their teeth were cutting the net.
Another fish that we will be saying good bye to this month is the sheepshead. As the water warms throughout the month they will start migrating offshore to the reefs. During the early month use small pieces of shrimp along the mangrove roots and other barnacled areas. Look for what you might think is a little nibble and set the hook.
Cobia will start moving along off the coast with a few moving into the sound. If you find a big ray cruising around, cast in its vicinity. Quite often the cobia are under and around the rays, eating whatever they stir up. If you ever catch a legal cobia, you are in for a thrill. Then when you get it on the boat, if you do not put it straight into the box, you may find it still has plenty of life left. They will go wild and break anything on the deck in their way. I have heard fisherman tell stories about having to sit on the ice box until they are dead just to keep them in and everybody else safe. You can also find them hanging out around buoys and crab trap lines. While looking for cobia you may even find a triple tail just hanging out in the same area. Just throw a shrimp close and hope for the best. Be safe and keep an eye to the weather.
Capt. Sam is a local licensed guide for hire who may be reached at 239-994-1495 or firstname.lastname@example.org