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Tomoka Basin to Sebastian Inlet

Includes Daytona Beach, Titusville, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa and Melbourne

By Captain Jim Ross | www.captainjimross.com | [email protected]

Weekend, April 4-6, 2003


OFFSHORE-Trolling remains slow this week, but the expected warming trend this weekend should help the bite pick up in the 160- to 220-foot depths. Bottom fishing for snapper and grouper remains good on the 22 Fathom Ridge. Remember to toss a flatline out while you're bottom fishing. You never know what might hit it. Most of the boats offshore on Wednesday and Thursday found blackfin tuna willing to hit this line while they were busy pulling snappers off the reef. A few cobia were added to the fish box using this method as well. If water temps in the 40- to 60-foot depths get above 68 degrees, look for cobia following manta rays 10 to 20 miles south of the inlet.

INSHORE-Redfish to 35 pounds and huge bluefish are striking large jigs, Gator spoons and lipped diving plugs at the inlet. J.D. Chunn at the Fishin' Shack reports weighing three fish this week over 14 pounds each. Sheepshead, whiting and smaller bluefish are good possibilities at the pier and in the surf. Trout and redfish are taking soft jerkbaits, plastic-tail jigs, and live shrimp around oyster bars in the backwaters north and south of the inlet.


OFFSHORE-Most of the boats fishing Pelican Flats are limiting on king mackerel while slow-trolling live or dead sardines. A few cobia are still showing up on the reef as well. Cobia are also being caught inshore near buoy No. 2 and along the beaches south of the inlet. Most of the cobes are following manta rays or turtles.

INSHORE-Surf fisherman are catching big bluefish on finger mullet, cutbaits and occasionally on large spoons between Cocoa Beach and Melbourne Beach this week. A few snook to 39 inches have also been reported in the surf. Trout from 12 to 24 inches in length are striking soft jerkbaits and topwater plugs during most morning trips on the Indian and Banana rivers. Look for areas where mullet are congregating along leeward shorelines to hold the best numbers of fish. Calm conditions are making the fish very spooky, so turn off your main and trolling motors well before you get to the area you want to fish. On Thursday morning my client and I watched our school of 3- to 7-pound trout run 40 yards down the flat, because a boater 200 yards north of us cranked up and motored away. On clean-water flats, salt-and-pepper/chartreuse tail and in tannin stained flats gold-pepper-shiner colors are working best in the jerkbaits. Redfish are schooling in 18 to 24 inches of water in the south end of Mosquito Lagoon near Cucumber Island and on the east side of Tiger Shoal in the north end. Small 1/8- to 1/4-ounce gold weedless spoons, soft jerkbaits and 1/8-ounce plastic jigs should get results. D.O.A. 3-inch shrimp will also work when sight casting to schools, but are prone to the dreaded puffers attack so don't use them as a "prospecting" tool.


OFFSHORE-Most of the king mackerel action offshore has been on the 90 foot reefline for anglers trolling ballyhoo or live baits. In the 90- to 140-foot depths, a few 4- to 8-pound "schoolie" sized dolphin are showing up, but most of the dolphin are smaller and shouldn't be kept. Snapper catches remain good on the reefs in the 70- to 150-foot depths.

INSHORE-Bluefish to 13 pounds are being caught at the inlet this week mainly on outgoing tides. Tarpon, jacks, sharks and oversize redfish are also good possibilities on the falling tide. Snook are hitting pinfish, jigs and lipped diving plugs on the first and last portions of the outgoing. Many of the flats north of the inlet are holding good numbers of 2- to 8-pound trout during upper stages of the tide. Look for most of these fish along dropoffs where mullet are schooling. The larger trout are striking Chug Bugs, Spitin' Images and Top Dog Jrs. during the first two hours of daylight. Anglers are advised to pole or drift as these wary fish will run from the sound of a trolling motor.

Perdido Key to Cape San Blas

Includes Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Panama City and Port St. Joe.

By Capt. Chip Blackburn | charterboat-missmary.com | [email protected]

Weekend, April 4-6, 2003

Anglers anticipating a weekend of fishing will probably not be disappointed. The passing cold front put a chill on the inshore fishing for Spanish mackerel, but the waters are warming up fast.

When Spanish mackerel schools hit the beach, word travels fast. Anglers trolling spoons will often find it takes only a little while to catch a limit once you locate a school. Many look for diving birds as an indication of schooling and feeding mackerel. In spring, when Spanish macks invade the beach, often a few smoker king mackerel are mixed in with their tiny cousins.

Cobia season is in full swing from Panama City to Pensacola. Fish are being caught from the numerous piers along Panhandle beaches as well as from boats searching the clear waters just off the sand. From Panama City to the east, fishing for cobia has been much tougher. With dirty water due to all the rainwater runoff, finding one is a challenge. The conditions should improve by the weekend.

Offshore bottom fishermen are finding a few grouper, but live baits were a must this past weekend. The wrecks and reefs are holding triggerfish now, so you might bring along some squid. Anglers fishing deep water wrecks and reefs are finding amberjack ready to inhale your favorite jig. Remember that red snapper season is closed until April 15 in state waters and April 21 in federal waters.

St. Vincent Island to Steinhatchee
Includes Apalachicola, St. George Island, Carabelle, St. Marks and Keaton Beach

By Capt. Jody Campbell | Web site | [email protected]

Weekend, April 4-6, 2003

The cool snap we've had for the past couple of days will probably slow trout fishing down some, but as soon as the weather warms back up, they should turn back on again. The areas east of the Lighthouse down to the Aucilla and Econfina continue to be producing good catches of trout and reds. Stoney Bayou around the lighthouse was hot last weekend and should continue to produce good catches of trout. The area around Black Rock is also good. Live shrimp or grubs fished straight or under an Equalizer or Cajun Thunder seem to be working the best. Stay with the bright colors since the water is still real dirty.

Shrimp seem to be the bait of choice around Wakulla Beach and lots of trout and reds are coming from that area. Around Shell Point and Oyster Bay, grubs and shrimp seem to be working, too, but the majority of the good fish are coming from around the oyster bars and they're just not on the flats yet in good numbers. The flats off Lanark Village are producing lots of trout, though most are small. Let the water warm up a little and that will change. Plenty of reds are being caught around the docks and the Lanark Reef.

Dog Island Reef is producing lots of Spanish on the east and west ends of Dog Island. Bob Sykes Cut is producing the first good catches of pompano for our area. Fish Nylure jigs for the pompano and troll small spoons or mackerel trees for Spanish. When you find Spanish, cast jigs to them.

The 45- to 65-foot depths seem to be where most of the grouper are coming from, though some are being caught in shallower for anglers trolling Stretch 25s and 30s. Some nice kings are also being caught while trolling for grouper and some big amberjack are hanging out around the towers. They're call for rain this weekend but let's hope they're wrong.

Good luck and good fishing! God Bless America!!

Pine Log Island to Hernando Beach
Includes Horseshoe Beach, Suwannee, Cedar Key, Waccasassa Bay, Yankeetown, Crystal River and Homosassa.

By Capt. Bill Henderson | www.hendersonduckboats.com | [email protected]

Weekend, April 4-6, 2003

Well the dreaded happened. A late season cold front has hit and put the fish in lockdown for a few days. Hopefully, only for a few days, though. It's forecasted to get back into the 80s later this week, so the water should warm right up. One good thing that the temp drop did was run the big trout back into the creeks. That was evident today. Everyone I talked to said they slayed them. The bite will stay great this week and the cool weather is surely over for the season, I hope. I, personally, am ready for summer.

Big redfish are as thick in the creeks around Homosassa as I have ever seen them. The bite was off the last few days, but that was mostly due to the cooling water temp. By week's end, fishing should improve and by the upcoming full moon phase the bite should peek. As it warms, target the points and pockets with rocky bottom. Reds will start their summer schooling pattern and getting that quick bite should be easy. Fresh cut mullet is a sure bait, but shrimp or live pinfish will work along with almost any plug or soft bait for you diehard purists.

Cobia are in the area, and again, as the water temp warms, they will show up along the coast around structure like channel markers and big rockpiles. A fresh chumslick and a heavy rods are all you will need to get one's attention. Most any bait will hook you up when a cobia comes to check out your slick.

Offshore anglers are looking dead in the eye at the best grouper fishing time of the year. With the spring weather, the gags will be on the move. Everywhere from the shallow rocks to way offshore will produce big fish. Trolling is a sure fire way to get a limit, but the bottom boys are the ones that seem to hook into that fish that almost pulls you out the boat.

Pray for warm weather and get out on the water. You can't catch them from the couch. See you on the big pond.

Aripeka to Longboat Key

Includes Hudson, New Port Richey, Anclote Key, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Anna Maria Island and Bradenton.

By Capt. Ray Markham | [email protected] | 941-723-2655

Weekend, April 4-6, 2003

Changes in the weather are normal for this time of year. Fluctuating temperatures, winds and atmospheric pressure keep things interesting, and make fish move. Don't expect last week's fish to be in the same locations. But for sure, if you find the bait, you'll find the fish.


Spanish and king mackerel are headlining the action for the weekend. A big influx of kings invaded the Suncoast this week. While most are snakes, the occasional smokers are around. Plenty of blue runners are in lower Tampa Bay for the catching. Runners are like candy to the king.

High pressure moving into Florida will make for lighter winds and fair weather for the weekend. Light southerly winds should allow waters to clear, letting bait schools regroup and move onto shallow, hard-bottom areas off the beaches. However, if winds kick up, look south of the Egmont Channel in 40-feet of water or out the channel to the Whistler Buoy for kings. Wrecks like the Betty Rose or artificial reefs like the Rube Allyn, Pinellas South or the Veteran's Reefs could be good spots to start looking. Kingfish tournaments will continue through the next month or so on the Suncoast, so boat traffic will increase. You'll know where the fish are by where the "parking lot" is located.

Grouper and snapper fishing has been on the upswing. Fish are being caught from 40 feet out with consistency.


Tarpon! Let the madness begin! Early arrivals are showing at the Skyway Bridge, but beware the Coast Guard is keeping vessels away from the immediate area.

The mack attack is on! Inshore Spanish mackerel fishing has been hot from Sarasota Bay north to Tarpon Springs. Mackerel to 5 pounds are slashing bait schools. Jigs, spoons, live pilchards and shrimp are taking fish on straight 20-pound monofilament with a trace of 30-pound fluorocarbon leader. Longshank hooks for live bait lessen cutoffs.

Pompano around the pilings at the Gandy Bridge and near Mullet Key are being taken on fiddler crabs, sandfleas, green mussels and Doc's Goofy Jigs in numbers. Sheepshead fishing is slowing, but black drum are beginning to show.

Reds and snook are hitting plugs, shrimp and whitebait near Master's Bayou, Riviera Bay and Ruskin, at the mouth of Little Manatee River. Strong afternoon tides influenced by Tuesday's new moon should turn on the bite. Ambush points, oyster bars and swash channels are top spots for these gamesters.

Silver trout are still available in the deep holes of Tampa Bay. Tandem jigs and shrimp will do the trick here. Speckled trout action has been great! Big yellowmouths are whacking topwater baits. Cloudy days, isolated flats with plenty of potholes and schools of bait make a surefire recipe for big trout this weekend. A limit of four fish measuring 15 to 20-inches with one of the four over 20 inches is allowed south of Fred Howard Park and a bag limit of 5 fish is permitted north of that.

Sarasota to Bonita Beach

Includes Siesta Key, Venice, Englewood, Boca Grande, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Pine Island, Cape Coral, Captiva, Sanibel and Fort Myers.

By Capt. Ron Kowalyk | Web Site | [email protected]

Weekend, April 4-6, 2003


No real action this week with 25-plus-mph winds and chilly weather keeping the fleet huddled in backbays, canals and rivers.


Few returns with the rough, cold weather this week. Still getting reports of decent snook in the canals and feeder creeks.

Port Charlotte

Snook and small tarpon are in the Peace and Myakka rivers. Gasparilla Sound was a good place to hide and generated a fair mixed-bag bite. The flats were a blowout this week with too much wind for any reasonable fishing effort.

Fort Myers

Wind and chilly weather were factors. You had to find a good hiding spot in the lee. Good redfish action in San Carlos Bay. We picked numbers of upper-slot reds on shrimp and shiners on high tide. Snook were eating in the Cape Coral canals with loads of big jacks for company. It’s small tarpon time in the Estero River. We jumped and landed several poons to 30pounds in the river using golden shiners and flies. There are tarpon and jacks in the Imperial.


Decent moving water all weekend. Should be a bite on the early morning incoming and fair action on the afternoon outgoing.

Naples to Flamingo

Includes Naples, Marco Island, Everglades City and Chokoloskee

By Capt. John Preeg | [email protected]

Weekend, April 4-6, 2003

Storm Blows Fish Away Briefly

Just when you thought that the winter fronts were gone, and the spring fishing had begun, last Sunday's storm roars through and shuts the fishing down. Fortunately, the effects of that front should be brief. The fishing was very good before the blow and probably will be just as good after it.

One exception might be waters between Wiggins Pass and Sanibel Island. That region has been hit by a lethal red tide. Last weekend, Estero Bay was littered with dead fish, and one guide even said that he saw a dead manatee. Sunday's storm might actually help this situation by breaking up the red tide, and the ensuing east winds should blow the remainder offshore. Still, the effects of this toxic algae will linger for some time. If you have a choice, it is probably best to fish farther south around Naples or Marco Island.

Snook fishing has been very good, especially south of Everglades City. The fish are not present in large schools, but the snook that are there are large ones and readily hitting both flies and artificials. There are also quite a few redfish along the outside points, and tarpon rolling both in the back bays and along the beaches. Waters were very dirty on Monday and Tuesday, but should clear up by the weekend.

Offshore, king mackerel remain in the area, and snapper, gag grouper, cobia and permit can be targeted over the wrecks. There are also Spanish mackerel along the beaches, and schools of tarpon in the 1- to 5-mile range.

Key Largo to Key West

Includes Islamorada and Marathon

By Dave Navarro - [email protected]

Weekend, April 4-6, 2003

Keys Wide Summary

Boy, talk about a wild start to the week! We have been so spoiled for so long, we almost forgot what it was like for the wind to blow. And blow it did. This will cause a big change in some fishing along with the cold snap that was associated with it. It did cool down shallower waters of flats and bays, which could directly influence several species; some for the better and some not so well.

Offshore fishing throughout the Keys has seen a continued upsurge of dolphin, tuna and wahoo prior to the front. This should continue. Sailfish have had surges in spots, but for the most part slowed significantly until this front. Now I am hearing reports of several larger boats having good success along the edge of the reef. This may remain hot for the next couple of days, so give it a shot. Kingfish are still active to the west.

Upper Keys Report

Mackerel should have turned on rather well for one last good shot at them this season. They have been good for the past couple of weeks, but actually tough to catch in any numbers. This front should kick them in the butt enough to get a good bite for the next couple of days. With the next big warm up, you might as well say adios for the most part.

Sailfish turned on the past couple of days for those who ventured out for them. Reef fishing has been tough on smaller boats, but those that have been fishing the reef lately report good activity of large fish. Mostly yellowtail have been reported with several nice muttons on large jigs to the western part of this region.

Flats fishing has been stirred up and this should produce good action when the winds settle down later in the weekend. High winds cause good movement of fish in shallow waters which should benefit anglers.

Middle Keys Report

This cool, windy snap has brought in more trout to nearby grassbeds. An increase in snapper in the shallow waters can also be expected. Things throughout the bay should have been shaken up somewhat, which is good now and then. It should move grouper and cobia around as well, so head back to your favorite spot and see if any new tenants have moved in. With all of the new markers on the bay side of the Middle Keys, even if the waters are still stirred up, you should be able to transverse the area without worrying about running aground.

Prior to the big blow, inshore fishing along the oceanside of the islands had been quite active. Hosts of species that frequent these areas were going strong. Along the belly of the islands near shore, quite a bit of activity was reported. It was the most protected area to fish. For families not only was good action available, but enough for dinner in most cases. Good hogfish, mangrove snapper, a few big muttons and an occasional grouper or two were around.

I don't have too much new information on the reef since very few idiots--I mean anglers--ventured out there the early part of the week. Tarpon fishing throughout the region had been so good that it rivaled that of May and June, particularly around the Long Key Bridge. With the northerly winds, the bite slowed somewhat, but look for it to resume with a bang.

Lower Keys Report

Flats fishing throughout the region was darn good! This venue was the most affected by the front but here again, only a little time will bring it back strong. Bonefish and tarpon on the flats have been thick, according to most guides. The lower backcountry was extremely good along with most of the flats adjacent to them. By the weekend, most of the area should be back to normal.

Big mutton snapper are being taken on deep jigs with ballyhoo or whole squid in a variety of depths along the edge of the reef. With the somewhat rough conditions, just drifting in the boat will provide all of the action you need versus working the rod. This run is usually the prelude to the annual spawn of muttons on Riley Hump that occurs in May and June. They should push through most of the Keys waters heading west for the next month or so.

Fernandina Beach to Flagler Beach

Includes Jacksonville and St. Augustine

By Capt. Rick Ryals - [email protected]

Weekend, April 4-6, 2003


Excellent numbers of red snapper continue to dominate the local offshore scene, with fish weighing over 20 pounds coming in almost everyday. Big seabass are continuing to wane, with a few legal grouper showing up.

Out in the deep water, the wahoo are steady, but not spectacular and the blackfins are here one day, gone the next. The best action on the Ledge has come from big, spawning, scamp grouper, with several boats reporting fish over 15 pounds.

Kingfish are all over the wrecks on BR. Snapper fishing has been so good there, nobody's messing with the kingfish.


If you always wanted to catch a fish over 50 pounds from your little boat, now's the time. Giant drum are in full swing from Fernandina to St. Augustine. The trough just offshore Main Beach in Fernandina seems to be the hottest spot.

More flounder are showing up every day. Capt. Jimmy Allan has reported pulling some 3-pound fish from the creeks north of Sisters. Dirty water has hampered trout fishing, but reds have been biting better on the warmer afternoons.


Excellent fishing, from pompano and blues in the surf to scamp grouper all over the Ledge. You can catch a giant drum from your johnboat, if you'll put in the time anchored in the Intracoastal, north of St. Augustine.

Spring is clearly upon us, as the first Spanish mackerel of the year, are near Matanzas Inlet.

In the deep, wahoo, are not spectacular, but certainly worth the effort.

Wabasso Beach to Boca Raton

Includes Vero Beach, Ft. Pierce, Stuart, West Palm Beach and Lake Worth.

By Capt. Eden White | Web Site | [email protected]

Weekend, April 4-6, 2003


Anglers devoting the time to seek them out are still finding cobia, both around rays and roaming the reefs. Eighty to 140 feet has been a productive depth, especially to the north. Mangrove snapper are on these same reefs, as well as in 15 to 20 feet of water off Fort Pierce Inlet. Dolphin are there, but require expensive fuel to hunt down. Kingfish ranging from snakes to smokers will be up and down the line.

Snook bites continue to heat up as they start their move closer to the inlets. Live bait and jigs presented early in the morning will both prove effective. Redfish, pompano, jacks and bluefish have all been on the flats near Sailfish Point, which is just inside the St. Lucie Inlet. Spillways have been gushing.


Bonito are back on the Juno Ledges, where a live sardine will have a short life span. Kingfish and a few dolphin are mixed in with them, along with the odd sailfish. Most of those, however, will be found much farther south. Snapper fishing has been inconsistent, usually contingent on the current--the more the better.

Spillways have been flowing and the snook are showing. Not considered to be the best eating, that's fine since many of the fish will be too large to keep anyway. Smaller fish will be eating live shrimp from the bridges at night. Live pinfish in the inlets are also productive. Seatrout are being caught around Munyon Island at the north end of the Lake Worth Lagoon.


Dolphin action has been solid, with the key being to work weeds and boards. Kings have been on the reefs in good numbers, along with a resurgence of yellowtails, porgies and mangrove snapper. Dead sardines freelined behind the boat, but allowed to sink will catch all of these. A small weight will help if there's a strong current or the wind is blowing.

Snook will be biting on the jetty at Boynton Inlet. Plugs and large jigs are easiest to fish, but a live sand perch on the bottom will probably catch more fish. They will also be present in the shadow lines of local bridges at night. Live shrimp and small jigs fished against the current work best.

Deerfield Beach to Key Largo
And Flamingo to Cape Sable

Includes Pompano Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and Homestead.

By Capt. George Mitchell | www.fabulousfishingadventures.com | [email protected]

Weekend, April 4-6, 2003


The strong Easterly winds are going to make for some good offshore fishing this weekend! The weatherman says to expect it to be 10 to 15 out of the east/southeast.

The good news is this will push a pile of weed and debris up against our reefline. Start your day trolling the reefline--a coupla small lures up top, a feather in the propwash and a deep-running lure or feather. Start at the edge of the reef and work your way deeper while you scan the horizon for birds. Chances are you will find the fish pretty close in. They will be on the move, so have your baits ready. We keep a bag of fresh dead as well as some livies close by. Remember to use your best bait last.


The dark side of the moon makes for some excellent yellowtailing in April. Your best bet will be to anchor up by 3 p.m. and start chumming. There's a good chance you will catch the bigger ones right before the sun sets. Bring a variety of baits--ballyhoo, squid, silversides, shrimp, whatever. Changing the offering sometimes means bigger fish!


This area is in the middle of the major tarpon bite. You can still find them up in the bays, but the majority are already headed to the Keys. South of Sandy and towards the Banks will be the best place to be. They will eat better at first light, or if they have not seen a lot of boat traffic. Pinfish and crabs work great !

Good Luck


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