by Capt. Greg Stamper
Well, March turned into April this year as social distancing became exactly what guides do. The fishing was unbelievable as the waters continued to warm with no cold fronts. We got to 76 degrees by late March making things excellent. The strong winds we had earlier in the month finally let down, giving all fisherman a glimpse of what’s coming forward. The early Spring brought everything back ahead of time this year. Those fishing offshore, finally had their first die down of winds, giving them a chance to go out deep. Near shore guides were loving the warmup as fish began their migrations early. The back-bay guides continue to reap the benefits of the closers and have been blessed with some unaccepted visitors.
The back bays and shallow water fisheries have been nothing short of outstanding, and will continue to be that way. Redfish are being caught daily from 20” all the way up to 32” plus. Redfish can be found almost anywhere right now, and shrimp or cut baits will work best as spreads for reds will work all month. Snook are already out of their Winter haunts and ready to eat before they get ready for their spawn. This could possibly happen earlier than July this year, so be ready. Trout are finally becoming a staple again, which is nice as guides can now get the backcountry slam done easily again. Lastly, we still have a chance in April to catch big black drum as they enter our bays in search of all the crabs pouring out. Look for them near passes and flats near deep water and you can impress a few clients.
Nearshore, permit will be pouring in all month. Permit are crab eaters so if you don’t have them, don’t bother. This is the start of the big boys, and fish up to 40lb’s can be expected so bring the right gear. Wearing out a big permit is never a good thing, and you’ll probably get it eating by a goliath if you go light on the tackle. Cobia will be your by-catch when permit fishing, so have a rod ready for them as they will just show up. It’s tarpon time, and a bunch were caught last month so expect a bunch in April.
Offshore started up at the end of March, as the winds finally allowed fisherman to get out far. Far is 30 plus miles here, and those at the end of the month that got to 110 plus crushed it. This pattern will only get better as we move through April. Grouper, big mangrove snappers, lane snappers, African pompano, AJ’S, and porgies will be your quarry.
Capt. Greg Stamper
Snookstampcharters.com, Fort Myers Beach