April offers beautiful weather (60s – 80s Fahrenheit) and some of the best fishing of the year, especially inshore. Pilchards (whitebait) started to appear last month as the water temperature rose above 70 F. Because of this, inshore species have begun aggressively feeding near mangrove shorelines, across grass flats, and on channel edges. Snook, sea trout, redfish, and the occasional flounder are the target species in these areas and will take pilchards, shrimp, or artificial lures when the tides are moving. Schools of pompano and permit roam local sandbars and beaches this time of year too – jigs, shrimp, sand fleas, and small crabs work well for these species.
Nearshore fishing in April is focused on wrecks, artificial reefs, and other structures located 1-7 miles off the beaches. Once you have found structure, anchor up and chum with chum bags and live whitebait. This will usually bring in kingfish, mackerel, cobia, bonito, or sharks. Dropping weighted live baits like pilchards, shrimp or pinfish to the bottom usually results in gray snapper and gag grouper.
Offshore fishing past 20 miles will normally result in amberjack, red snapper, red grouper, gag grouper, mangrove snapper, porgies, and grunts. Sharks and barracuda will likely make an appearance in an attempt to get easy meals by stealing your catch. The approach to offshore fishing is very similar to nearshore – find structure using a GPS and depth-finder, anchor, then hang a chum bag while dropping weighted baits to the bottom. Live whitebait and pinfish on the bottom or frozen squid on a jig head will be effective for all of these species. Free lining a large live pilchard or blue runner on the surface while bottom fishing will get any curious kingfish, African pompano, or cobia that show up.
Hiring a local fishing charter service at Keyes Marina can help to ensure a successful and enjoyable fishing trip. A charter captain can provide insight into local fishing spots, techniques, tackle, regulations, tides, weather, and gear.