The Snowbirds are Packing up

By Capt. Billy Norris

Springtime is finally here!  The snowbirds are packing up their cars and heading back up north, and the fishing is about to heat up!  We are already starting to see our spring/summertime fish show up, and the weather continues to get nicer each day.  If you have been waiting to fish until the chaos of season is over, then it’s time to dust off your gear and get out on the water!

The backwaters have been productive over the course of the last month.  There are plenty of the usual suspects, i.e., redfish, trout and snook hanging around.  As the water begins to warm up, snook will start to show up in large numbers.  During the winter many snook move further back seeking warmer temperatures, some making it far up into nearly freshwater.  As they make their way from their winter strongholds, be prepared to sight fish them from the beaches.  This is one of my favorite types of fishing.  When they hit the beaches, snook lose their brown/olive color backs and turn more silver/yellow.  This makes them difficult for the untrained eye to spot as they cruise in the troughs up and down the coast.  However, if you know what you’re looking for, you can have an awesome fishing session.  For bait of choice, I prefer live pilchards or threadfins.  Once you spot your intended target, make sure to cast ahead of the snook in the direction they are heading.  Never cast directly on top of them, as you will spook the fish.  A good rule to remember is that prey never swims towards a predator, so you don’t want to reel your bait back towards a beach-cruising snook.  Instead, throw ahead of the fish, and have the bait presented in a way that the snook thinks it just happened to stumble across a wounded bait fish.  This will greatly increase your hookups.

Offshore has been equally as good.  We are seeing massive schools of permit showing up on the wrecks and reefs.  One day last month we even stumbled across a school of big permit that had at least 500 fish in it.  Bait of choice for permit is always crabs, but if you don’t know how to catch crabs you might have luck with a giant shrimp on a jig head.  It doesn’t always work, but sometimes you get lucky.  In addition to permit, there are schools of tarpon showing up as well.  There aren’t a ton of fish here yet, but there are enough that its worth actively targeting them.  Tarpon can be picky when it comes to bait, so I like to have both crabs and threadfins in the livewell to make sure I have all my bases covered.  Kingfish have also finally showed up!  After nearly two years without seeing a king, it’s nice to finally have these big, hard fighting fish back in the lineup of target species.  If you are trying your luck at kingfishing, make sure that you know how to tie proper kingfish rigs, and always use steel leader.

The fishing has been great and should be amazing all spring!  We will be here through the month of April, and then off to the Florida Keys for the month of May to fish the tarpon migration!  If you have ever wanted to target big tarpon, give us a call and book a Keys tarpon trip!  Spring is here, snowbird season is over, and it’s time to get into some serious angling!