by Capt. Greg Stamper
This is a great time of the year here in Southwest Florida. Weather is just perfect, and so is the fishing. There’s lots of options ranging from the offshore waters all the way into the skinny back bays and creeks. Tarpon fishing is now outstanding, as it started up early this year. We’ll be able to catch permit, cobia, and sharks regularly throughout the near shore waters. The back-water trips will be full of snook, redfish, and trout as who doesn’t want a backcountry slam. Offshore guys will continue to catch an array of good eating fish often.
The tarpon spawn is full speed and lots of anglers will be chasing them up and down the coast. Crabs that are about three inches wide on 5/o circle hooks with 50lb leaders will do the trick. Threadfin, pilchards, and catfish tails also work well. Permit are another great fish to target after a few tarpon have been caught, and will be found on most of the local wrecks for many months to come. Those same wrecks that hold the permit will also have cobia on them. So have a rod ready to pitch a jig or live bait at a cobia when he shows up, if you’re not ready you may not get him.
The bays, creeks, and beaches are an excellent place to spend time these days. Snook can be seen cruising the beaches, often within feet of the shore. The pilchard schools are thick now and using them or something that mimics it works best. Pompano will also be moving along these beaches and will usually be out a bit deeper. Jigs tipped with shrimp are my go too, and having a rod ready to go for snook or pompano will keep clients busy. Redfishing in our bays and creeks is another option especially if the winds coming from a westerly direction. Pilchards or live shrimp are two of my favorites and I’ll start around the oyster bars and docks on the low tides, then work my way into the mangrove shorelines as the tide rises. Trout will be found on almost all the open flats especially those with nice grassy bottoms in 2-5 feet.
Offshore it’s grouper full speed now, usually out past 100 feet, but you’ve got a chance inside too 80. Mangrove snapper will be good, especially during the night along with yellowtail. Mangrove snappers up to 10 pounds will be caught often along with porgies, lane snappers, and a few triggerfish. Those anglers that get out past 120 feet will find African pompano, gag and black grouper, blackfin tuna, and amber jacks if you know where to go.
Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper
Snookstampcharters.com Fort Myers, Fla