March / April 2020 Fishing Report

The past couple months have been extremely good fishing in Marco Island, Florida. The big snook are coming out of the back country as the water heats up. I love to target this big breeder snook with live mullet or pilchard (white bait). When targeting these fish in the mangroves, I look for water movement on mangrove points. I will free line a white bait on 40 lb. fluorocarbon with a 3/0 circle hook. I like to use a little heavier tackle like a Penn Battle 5000/6000 reel on a 7-foot medium action rod. The heavier tackle helps keep these over slot fish out of the mangroves. I also have been seeing an increased number of over slot snook on the sandbars just outside the passes. Again, I look for fast water movement and steep drop offs. When fishing these sandbars, I scale down the tackle to 4000 reels on a 7’ medium light rod. If the current is extremely strong I will add a 2/3 oz egg weight on the leader to keep the bait in the strike zone a little longer, usually if the fish are present it doesn’t take long before the drag starts screaming.

With the temperatures heating up the bait is slowly moving north and starting to show up on the beaches. I have been cruising the beaches looking for pelicans diving. Once I see the pelicans diving on bait, I will gently pull up to figure out the size of baits they’re feeding on. If they are feeding on glass minnows I will keep driving until I find the school of pilchards. When I locate the pilchards, I will slowly approach them on the trolling motor before throwing a 1/4-inch 12-foot cast net. Catching these baits is the difference between a good day and a great day, so I like to spend the time and fill up the wells.

Another species I have been targeting with the warmer temperatures is mangrove snapper. We are seeing a lot of 12 – 15-inch mangrove snapper in the backcountry which is great for anglers who want to catch dinner. When fishing for mangrove snapper I am using 3000 Penn Battles on a medium light rod with 20 lb. fluorocarbon leader. I like to add a #1 split shot to the leader to keep the bait in the zone a little longer. When the bait hits the water and realizes he was just placed in the lion’s den of snapper they usually try to get away as fast as possible. When targeting these fish I am looking for high current areas with a lot of sunken trees or bushes in the water, I also like to fish for mangrove snapper on bridges so my clients can get out of the sun for a little while.

I always keep the best for last, and that’s redfish. Redfishing has been consistent these past few months, when targeting these fish in the mangroves on a higher outgoing tide. I’ve been catching redfish consistently on shrimp, especially because the shrimp has been unusually large for this time of year. I have also been using cut ladyfish to target larger redfish. If you would like to come experience the 10,000 islands you can reach me at [email protected]