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April Fishing Forecast

I’ve got some good news for you tarpon fisherman.  The spring mullet run should be making its way to the Upper Keys.  Along with the schools of mullet, there should be a few tarpon showing-up on the oceanside flats and channels.  There are few fish more exciting than the acrobatic silver kings that invade the keys.  The larger migratory fish will be around until late June and the smaller resident tarpon can be caught until the water temperatures cool next winter.  Similar to bonefish and permit, tarpon follow certain patterns.  But, unlike bonefish, tarpon migrate in deeper water.  At the higher stages of the tide, tarpon will move up onto the flats and poling will allow you to cover more ground.  The silver kings are not picky eaters and will inhale just about anything that swims.  But, nothing beats that explosive surface strike from a live mullet or top water bait.  Once you get the bite don’t forget to bow to the silver king when they breach the surface and leap skyward.  Anglers fishing the bridges in the late afternoon and nights should expect multiple hookups on mullet and crabs.  I prefer using a cork above live baits which helps the angler keep tabs on exactly where the bait is located.  Along with the tarpon come the apex predators such as hammerhead sharks looking for an easy meal.  So, the next time someone asks if they can dangle their feet in the water you might want to think twice before saying yes. 

With water levels rising and temperatures pushing the high 70’s expect to see a good push of fish onto the flats around Florida Bay.  There’s nothing quite like hunting down a snook or redfish in 10 inches of water then making the perfect cast and watching the fish eat your lure or bait.  When choosing your tackle for the flats the most important factor to consider is casting distance.  The further you can cast your lure or bait, the better your chances are to catch a fish and this is especially true in clean-calm water.  I prefer at least 7’ rods but will often use 7’6” rods with a soft tip for extended distance.  Although the rod is very important, your choice of line is equally important.   The recent improvements in braided lines are making them more appealing for the masses.  Braided lines such as Spiderwire Ultra Cast offers increased casting distance due to its thin rounded diameter along with zero stretch and abrasion resistance.  Also, this new braid is less prone to backlashes and wind knots like some of the other brands which seemed to catch more headaches than fish.  Don’t overlook the importance of a reel with a good drag system and the ability to hold at least 200 yards of line.  This is another advantage of using braid since the 10 lb is the equivalent to 2 lb monofilament’s diameter.  When spooling braid onto your reel make sure to back it with at least 30 yards of mono to prevent the braid from slipping on the spool.  When connecting your main line to a fluorocarbon leader use a uni to uni knot connection which will give you close to 100% strength.  The combination of a longer rod and smaller line diameter will make you a longer more accurate caster which should result in more hook-ups. 

The patch reefs on the Oceanside of the Upper Keys will continue to produce good catches.  We’ve been catching plenty of snapper and small grouper on the patches in 15-30 feet.  Bring along a couple blocks of chum and plenty of live shrimp with a few packs of chartreuse ¼ ounce HookUp Lures.  Everything on the reef will eat a shrimp especially the tasty snapper including hog, yellowtail, mangrove and muttons.  It’s not a bad idea to catch a few ballyhoo when they appear in the chum slick, they make great cut bait for the black and gag groupers.  The key to successful patch fishing is to draw the larger fish from the reef with chum.  Chum can include anything from the commercial frozen blocks to live pilchards or cut chunks of fresh ballyhoo. 

'Til next time, Tight Lines and Light Winds…….

Captain Lain