Ponce Inlet Offshore Fishing Report: April 2014

By Capt. Jon Zeller

After a red hot fishery in March, anglers hope the excellent fishing continues this month. Offshore anglers have to expect the dolphin fishing to become more consistent as the incredible wahoo bite
slows down. Sight fishing along the beach for cobia will finally happen as the warmer water temperatures near the shore allow the bait migration and manta rays to push north. April should bring more favorable conditions and anglers can expect a great month of fishing when the improving weather allows.

Bait pods and manta rays near-shore will hold host to the best sight casting opportunities all year, with the spring run of cobia. The annual migration of manta rays is later than usual, as March cold fronts have stalled the action keeping the fish offshore or south. April will bring more southerly winds allowing the migration north in “waves” parallel to the coast with many cobias’s following. The larger cobia are often seen in or near the bait pods so proceed gradually and be ready for the “free swimming” cobia that always seems to surprise the sharpest lookouts. Try casting jigs tipped with bait, artificial lures, a fresh live eel or pinfish when spotting a fish that may exceed 70 pounds.
Blue water, temperature breaks and quite possibly an incredible rip with a weedline can hold larger pelagic species for offshore anglers. The Halifax Sportfishing Club is hosting the first tournament of the season April 11-13 out of Down the Hatch restaurant in Ponce Inlet. Dolphin and wahoo should be found in good numbers inshore of the continental shelf out to the gulfstream itself for tournament anglers and recreational fishermen alike. Trolling a mix of skirted and naked swimming ballyhoo along with a few bigger baits for wahoo and marlin in the spread is the most effective way to draw a strike. Don’t be afraid to use heavier mono rigs in the 100# class as big dolphin will test tackle in the deep. If fish are not spotted on the weedlines, temperature breaks or edges , troll the known bottom structures like the ledge or steeples for strikes.

On the bottom, vermillion snapper, triggerfish and amberjack are bending rods for bottom fishermen. These tasty fish can be found on the near shore reefs all the way out to the steeples. Small 3/0 hook double rigs with a small piece of squid or bonita chunk is a favorite bait. Drop your line to the bottom, and then crank up 10- 12 turns to catch the bigger b-liners and triggers up in the water column. Watch for a curious cobia to follow up your red eye snapper, so have your pitch bait standing by. Amberjack will be found in the deeper water reefs to the ledge on larger live baits fished on a long leader. Remember to have your venting tool ready to assist in releasing genuine red snapper and grouper caught.

Tight Lines

Capt. Jon Zeller
New Smyrna Beach Billfish Invitational Sport Fishing Charters
(386) 290-4181