by Capt. Greg Stamper
I’m not sure what that furry oversized squirrel from up North was thinking, but Spring has sprung here in Southwest Florida. This is an exciting time for all of us that enjoy catching fish throughout the area. With the warming of the water bait, what eats the bait, and what catches them increases daily. Throughout the area it’s a super busy time, as local Spring training is in full swing and all the guides are booked up catching fish. This is the month that our water temperatures start to consistently stay above 78 degrees thus we’ve got happy fish.
Redfishing gets good this time of the year. We’ll be looking for schooling fish along grass flats, oyster bars, and even our near shore wrecks. All kinds of different baits will work. Artificial lures from top water to deep divers will get them, as well as live baits and cut ones. In the back bays when we’re not slow rolling on the trolling motor, we’ll put out spreads for reds. Basically, we throw a variety of baits on jigs, chicken rigs, or freelined along shore lines or structure and wait’em out. This is a very productive method to catch reds, snook, trout, etc…
Snook fishing gets good this time of the year as their moving out of their back-bay winter haunts and can be found on the open flats, beaches, wrecks, and river mouths consistently. Live bait is your best bet as I’ll usually use whitebait or threadfins. Depending on the size of the snook your finding, a typical 30-pound fluorocarbon leader and 2/0 hook works well. Should you run across large snook using your 40-pound leader and moving up a hook size will usually do the trick.
Tarpon will be starting to show up, especially if we continue this warm weather pattern we had through February. This will be the beginning of the spawn and you can expect to see lots of reports beginning to show up near everglades national park soon. This push of tarpon will then be heading up the coast following the schools of bait and trailed by many of us trying to catch them. Fishing with crabs or threadfin herring are the best bets during the first month or two for the silver kings.
For those who just want to have fun and not fight a fish for 40 minutes, we’ve got pompano, trout, jacks, macks, bonita and a bunch of other options. We’ll do a lot of popping cork fishing and jigs tipped with shrimp to target most of these fish. Fishing for these targets is a lot of fun and you don’t have to be an experienced angler to have a great time with these. These are the typical family outings or just those anglers that want to soak up the beauty of or area during their stay.
So to wrap things up, we may get a few more cold fronts here and there. Februarys weather was excellent, and our water temperatures have already risen to 78 degrees. Even a future front or two isn’t going to change much as far as the progression of Spring. Fishing is going to be good moving forward and your better give your guide a call if you haven’t already done so. It’s going to be a busy season for us and we’d love to get you out.
Tight lines, Capt Greg Stamper