Spring into action with this Fishing Tactics!
Spring is here on Florida’s southern Gulf coast, and more consistent warmer temperatures are changing the species and type of fishing we do.
With the warmer temperatures, we begin to target bigger trout that push onto the grass flats to feast on live shrimp dangled under a cork or freelined greenbacks. Look for the sand holes in the grass and target the edges of the sand. With normal springtime conditions, you can still expect the water to be as clear as gin, so light leaders and allowing baits to work as naturally as possible will benefit you greatly. Bag limit for trout is four per person from 15 to 20 inches, with one fish allowed to be over 20 inches.
This time of year, big snook make their presence known. They are my favorite fish to target. I tend to focus my attention to the outside of oyster beds and sandbars, the edges of channels and deeper grass flats. They’ll eat a live pinfish on a ¼- or 3/8-ounce jig head. Another great bait is live greenbacks. Cut chunks of mullet are effective when live bait is not available.
With the recent horrific red tide that was experienced in southwest Florida, thousands of snook were killed, a lot of which were pregnant females. With the season opening for snook on March 1, please consider the recent effects of the red tide when contemplating harvesting. When removing these fish from the water, handle them with care. Best practice is to grab the fish by the lip using your hand or a Boga-style grip. Remove the hook and lift the fish, providing support to the belly with your other hand. I don’t allow the fish I plan to release to be out of water for more than about 15 seconds. This method will give one of our top gamefish the ability to quickly recover and return to the water safely. This ensures conservation for future generations.
Now, go apply all this talk of catching big snook and trout, but formulate a game plan before you go out. Luckily, the Charlotte Harbor area has hundreds of square miles to fish and plenty of public boat ramps. Checking the weather forecast and tide chart can determine where you might want to launch. March is the windiest month of the year. Knowing the area will help you choose the right ramp to launch from. For instance, if the wind if coming from the west, you probably don’t want to fish the east wall of the harbor, the back bays of Bull and Turtle Bay may save your trip and vice versa.
By Capt. Scott Fisher
Capt. Scott Fisher is owner/operator of Hooked On Charters out of Boca Grande, Fla.
Contact him at 941-258-5654 or www.HookedOnCharters.com