by Capt. Greg Stamper
Spring has now sprung, which means fishing will be good down here in Southwest Florida. This is a magical time for anglers as bait becomes plentiful and so do the fishing options. For guides, additional species become selected targets as bait schools push their way north along our beaches and backcountry waters. This is a great time of the year for anglers since options ranging from tarpon, permit, cobia, and tripletail become active in our nearshore waters while snook, redfish, trout, and big jacks can be pursued in the backcountry as well as along our beaches. Shark fishing begins picking up as well, and the reason is clear -- the larger game fish species that the sharks prefer to prey upon start to move in with the spring weather.
Tarpon, perhaps what we are best known for in Southwest Florida, begin spawning and can be found in large schools patrolling along our beaches and nearshore waters. We will catch plenty of these silver kings using a variety of baits both live and artificial. This can mean catching fish up to 150 pounds regularly. Tarpon will be in town spawning until around mid-June, when they begin to spread back out up and down the coast. The cool part about being down here in Fort Myers is we have them through December, and in another month or so, we will get a large push of juvenile tarpon as well.
Snook fishing becomes one of my favorite targets during this time of the year as more and more anglers pursue tarpon, leaving areas holding snook less pressured. Snook begin to patrol the beaches, passes, and rivers stalking schools of sardines, threadfin, and mullet. There are many ways of catching these linesiders, from sight fishing to enticing them of off our local wrecks. Your best bet is live bait; however, artificial, flies, and cut baits all work. I usually use a medium heavy fast action rod with 20# braid, 30# fluorocarbon leader, and a 2/0 circle hook for most snook, until I start seeing fish above the 34” mark. For big snook, you’ll need to bump up the rod, line, leader, and hook size accordingly.
Redfish, trout, pompano, and mangrove snapper are just a few of the other inshore species that we target a lot during the spring months. As most guides do, we cater to what our clients want, so if it’s about numbers and action these species can keep you busy for most of the trip. Not to mention some folks just aren’t up for 30-40 minute fights and prefer something a little less tiring.
Permit schools begin rolling into town, and if you’re lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, it can be quite an experience. Permit love dining on crabs, but will eat shrimp and clams as well as any other crustaceans that are around. When targeting permit, it is best to move quietly preferably on a trolling motor while paying close attention to what’s happening on the surface as well as on your depth finder. Permit in these waters can be up to 30 pounds and have excellent eyesight. When you target this species, be sure to have a reel that can handle long runs and can hold at least 400 yards of line.
Capt Greg Stamper
Snook Stamp Charters