There’s never been a better time for spring fishing in Florida, so grab your favorite rod and reel and hit the water! Here are the places you won’t want to miss.
The Homosassa area has some of the best sea trout fishing in the state during the spring.
“What makes our area unique is that most of our trout fishing can be sight casting to large trout sunning on hard limestone bottom,” says Captain William Toney of Homosassa Inshore Fishing. The fourth generation fishing guide and Homosassa native says the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to start when targeting large springtime trout.
One of the captain’s favorite lures is the D.O.A. 5 1/2-inch Glow Jerk Bait with a 3/0 hook placed through the nose of the bait. Cast towards the limestone rocks and retrieve it fast enough to keep it off the bottom, but slow enough to keep it from breaking the surface.
Alternatives: Peacock bass fishing for anglers who like to sight cast is at its best! The bass are in full spawning mode and this is the time for targeting the biggest peacock bass in Florida. Peacock bass guide Alan Zaremba recommends pitching 1/4-ounce jigs tight to the banks when using spin or baitcasting equipment and Clouser Minnows if using a fly rod. Polarized sunglasses are a must for spotting the fish.
Bedding largemouths on Lake George can be enticed with 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits in low light. Weedless swimming worms or Horny Toads worked through the grass can be effective as well.
April is the last month of the spring open season for snook and boasts the highest success rate for harvested fish. The Intracoastal Waterway docks hold pre-spawn snook that are staging prior to moving into nearby passes and inlets.
“Beef up the tackle to increase your chances of extracting fish from line-shredding pilings,” says Captain Ralph Allen, who guides anglers in the Charlotte Harbor area.
For increased success the captain suggests free lining large sardines, pinfish or small mullet under the docks from the up current side.
Alternatives: Off the beaches of Destin, cobia are cruising the sandbars. Look for them from the breakers out to depths of 20 feet and feed them live baitfish or large plastic-tailed jigs in chartreuse.
This is the time for “gator” trout in Jacksonville on the St. Johns River. The most effective lures are hard plastic jerkbaits and 5-inch curly-tail grubs on jig heads.
This is still the time for encountering large schools of redfish on the shallow flats throughout the lagoon.
“Sight fishing from poling skiffs allows anglers the chance to cast to fish they can see. Others fish from kayaks, canoes, wading, or in boats while at anchor,” says Captain Chris Myers.
Many of the fish are found on the grass flats, in water less than 2 feet deep, but they can also be caught on the deeper edges of sand bars and around islands and points.
The reds eat a wide range of live baits like shrimp, crabs, mullet, pinfish, pigfish and mud minnows. They are just as eager to take artificial lures as well. Captain Myers recommends using a D.O.A. Baitbuster or 1/4-ounce shrimp.
Alternatives: On the St. Johns River in the Geneva area, rising water levels draw the large spawning catfish out of lakes Jessup, Monroe and Harney into the deeper bends of the river. Captain Tom Van Horn of Mosquito Lagoon Charters says that both channel and blue catfish up to 30 pounds are common during this time. The captain’s preferred bait is fresh dead shrimp fished tight to the bottom.
Tarpon are arriving in Boca Grande Pass and anglers can drift live squirrelfish, pinfish, shrimp or crabs at various depths through the pass with the current.
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The 186 VLO measures in at 18 feet 9 inches with an 89-inch beam. The boat is built on a fiberglass, foam-filled hull and weighs in at 1,450 pounds and can hold a payload of 1,320 pounds. Maximum room is devoted to rod and tackle storage and fishing deck. VLO comes with a cus-tom-built, single axle trailer with submersible lights, a swing jack and a swing-away tongue.