It’s that time of the year when the springtime bites we’ve been eagerly awaiting are finally happening! The water temperature is right at 70 degrees and the Spanish mackerel, sheepshead, pompano, mangrove snapper, amberjack, redfish and kingfish are all here. I even saw a cobia being caught a few days ago.
The flats are alive with activity. Pinfish have made their way back into the shallows where they've taken up residence on grass and sand flats. Big schools of mullet are working the shoreline bottoms. Speckled trout and redfish are patrolling around the mullet schools, ready to pounce on any shrimp, crabs or baitfish that they flush out. At high tide, small groups of redfish cruise close to the shoreline where they become great targets for spot and stalk sightfishing. When the tide drops out, you can drift around and throw soft plastics into slightly deeper potholes where the speckled trout tend to congregate and wait for the water level to rise again.
Mangrove snappers, a favorite of mine for their catchability and tastiness on a taco, are showing up in all their usual springtime haunts. Mixed in along the jetties, bridge pilings, sea walls, docks, and other shallow water structure, mangroves offer a fun fight on light tackle with little specialized gear needed. A flatlined or lightly-weighted shrimp or baitfish is the perfect offering for a hungry mangrove.
A strong sheepshead bite continues in the inlet along the jetties and other submerged structures. The best action is on the changing tide when the water slows down and alters direction. At slack tide, you’ll often see sheepshead leave the bottom of the rocks and start suspending over the top of them. When that happens, throw a split shot with a shrimp or fiddler crab and there’s a good chance of getting bites without getting hung in the rocks. A small #2 circle hook will help get the finicky feeders hooked up.
A wide variety of fish are being caught in the troughs along the beaches, including Spanish mackerel, pompano, amberjack and redfish. For Spanish mackerel, you can troll small spoons or mackerel rigs or, if the fish are feeding on the surface, try running from school to school and casting plugs or jigs into the frenzy. Both techniques offer a high level of success but casting to them is more fun.
When targeting pompano, focus your efforts on working the surf and pockets along the beach where turbulent water stirs up sand fleas, crabs and shrimp. Other good spots are the corners of the jetties where rocks meet beach. Natural baits fished from shore on a #2 hook rig work well but one of the most productive and exciting ways to catch them is with small hair or metal jigs fished along the bottom.
As always, if you have questions about what’s biting, how to catch them or want to book a trip, give me a call or shoot me an email. Tight lines!