The best snapper fishing in my region takes place around the new and full moons, when the fish gather up to spawn. We’re talking yellowtail and mutton snapper, and then as we get into the summer months, the larger mangrove snapper will move in to spawn. For three or four days on either side of the new and full moons, the snapper will stack up in big schools on the reefs, and that’s when you can really have a productive day or night on the water.
Bait is king in my region, mostly because with bait you’re not trying to trick or fool fish into believing what they are going to eat is real, it is real. And because it’s real, it acts and reacts like the real thing is supposed to, and also smells and tastes real, so when a fish eats it, it will hold onto the bait longer than it will a fly or lure.
May is prime time for tarpon fishing in the Central West Region, as fish migrate their way up the west coast of Florida and into the inshore areas for the summer months. That means we have two types of fishing: beach fishing and inshore fishing. Both styles are really productive, so it just depends on where you want to target your fish.
Springtime Sailfishing is a lot different than winter, where we do a lot of trolling ballyhoo, kite fishing or slow trolling live baits to cover water and hopefully find fish. In the spring, the fish are on the color edges and more often than not up and tailing on the surface, so all our fishing is sight fishing.
As we move into mid-April, the seatrout are coming out of the deeper canals and channels and moving towards the shallow water grass flats to spawn. From now through early June, you’ll not only find good numbers of seatrout in the bays, but also the largest fish of the year.
Unlike a lot of areas of the state where you can sight cast cobia free-swimming along the beaches, in the Southwest Region we find our fish either on wrecks or on the grass flats. On the southern end of my region from Ft. Myers Beach all the way down to Lostman’s River, you want to focus on fishing wrecks that are five to 20 miles out from shore. You’ll also find a few fish on the channel markers, more so on the larger markers with multiple poles to them.
Early April is a great time for chasing redfish in my region. The fish have been schooled up all winter and those schools are breaking apart and the fish spreading out, which makes for a great scenario for topwater plug fishing. I like topwater lures because they cover a lot of water—they’re a search lure that helps you find the fish when they’re distributed out over a large area.
With the exception of archery and the early duck season, there’s not much going on in the way of hunting on public land in my region until November. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in the woods. This is the time that you want to start putting together your hunting stands and getting them placed in different areas for different wind and weather scenarios.
September is one of the hottest months of the year in Florida, so if bass fishing is your passion, you’re used to waking up early and being on the water before the sun comes up. By about 10 a.m., the best fishing of the day is over, although you can get in one some good midday action during or after a rain storm.