There's good news, and about time, for diggers, draggers, and bait soakers with nice weather and less wind aiding in your trips to the deeper marks. Crews reported great grouper and snapper action all along the region with best action starting at the 60 ft.-plus marks from Sanibel north.
Kings are massing on the features with sharks and cobia for company. Pins, threads, bluerunners, and about any mouth-size snack say welcome to the hungry bruisers. Bait-tipped jigs and shallow running plugs were an option. There were cobia, Spanish, and kings on the close marks at 5 miles out, but not nearly as thick as on the marks from 9-plus miles off. The close-in reefs and wrecks were home to mobs of snapper, grunts, a few flounder, pomps, and grunts. Schools of black drum stirred up excitement—being mistaken for redfish, but still a fun target with shrimp, cut chunk baits, and Gulps. Bonito were reported with the masses of Spanish crashing the bait pods as close as the pass mouths and around the 3-mile marks.
The water is clearing so you can run around the freshwater runoff and staining (much ado about really nothing), just goose that oversized mill on your swamp buggy and haul north or south a couple a miles. Consider that the less dense sweet water floats above the salt, and that fresh layer thins as it spreads out into the Gulf. These conditions are cyclical, usually a spring or summer occurrence; although burdensome they can be addressed and overcome.
The inshore and flats bite picked up across the board; reds, trout, snook all on a belated chew. There's bait back in the bays; again, seek green, warmer, clearing water; it's out there, sports fans. Trout action has been gung ho! killer in Estero and points north; more north, more bigger specks. Shrimp, shrimp, shrimp, don't leave home without ‘em! White curlytails, Gulps, new pennies, and other scented plastics work their magic and provide plenty of fun action and some nice dinners; need black beans and yellow rice.
Oh, Yah!!Reds are returning to flats and crews reported good bites on shrimp, smallish pins, and cut-stuff, easy-peezy, home boys! You'll still want to slow your presentation and give biters a nice two or three count runoff before yoking your hook set, just a thought. Some crews reports schooling reds around the oyster and sandbars, especially on the Burnt Store areas. Gold spoons, pins and Gulps were all effective but the troops are skittish, so tread lightly and hope they waddle your way. Get out your long castrigs or better yet wade the skinny water.
Snook Season Opened 03-01-16. There are liners on the Gulf beaches but not too thick yet. Backbay and creek snook are still waking up from the cool water conditions. Be ready for quick safe releases = circle hooks and debarbed other offerings; save our good stuff, remember they're yours and mine; keep stocks on the upswing!
Sheepies and snapper are crowed around the structure off the beaches and on the myriad docks, rip-rap, andbridge pilings; bring frozen shrimp, small hooks, and lots of ice for your fish box; rice and beans, mac and cheese, home fries and hot sauce; save your "Food Stamps"! Whiting. sugar trout, pomps, and flounder are in the passes; good stuff!
Sweetwater: Bass are bouncing back after the chilly period. Shiners are your best bet and black rubber worms will come into play as the water warms up. Cheaters were fishing the few early season beds; fun but lighten up your circle hooks, and maybe even debarb them as well. The ditches, creeks, and ponds are reporting landlocked snook, tarpon, even a shark or two; land captains' delight. Watch out for pythons; just kidding.
Crappie are thick in lake Trafford and Okeechobee; minnows and scented tiny tube lures were the top offerings; they will take a mini fly as well, topwater rubber spider too.Franklyn Locks have mobs of tarpon, but they're very finicky innsters; tons of gars to eat your baits; oh well!
Capt. Ron Kowalyk: 239-267-9312