The Tarpon are here! They're showing up in numbers, better each week and this is not an April fool. So many local guides in and around the backcountry are gearing up for Spring, and what could be the busiest season we've seen in years.
You can catch tarpon on live bait like mullet, but if you want a real challenge, try for one on the fly. You just have to go on a sunny day so you can see them swimming. It helps to be with a guide that puts you in the correct spot and that you can present the fly with some accuracy.
Happy Spring! It's official now since last Monday. There were some giant Goliath grouper caught and released as well as a handful of snook and redfish in the Everglades National Park last week. Overall, I have to say fishing was very good for snapper, trout and a mixed bag of mackerel in the open areas of the Bay and Gulf, once again.
Offshore, there is lots to talk about as well. Some highlights last week were a continued bite of king mackerel caught aboard most of the charter boats out of the upper Keys around Key Largo and Islamorada. A handful of mutton snapper were reported aboard the party boats again including a nice box of muttons aboard the Gulfstream party boat.
Speaking of snapper, the yellow tails are starting to bite in more of a pre-spawning and more aggressive mode. There were several 6-pound examples weighed in at some of the local bait shops around town. My favorite time for snapper fishing is over the next two to three months. The problem is, there's so much to fish for in the Spring that you have to make up your mind just exactly what you want. Now that's a hard choice for me sometimes, in more ways than one. I guess it's a good problem to have though, in that you have lots of options fishing around the areas of the upper Keys during the Spring.
There's still a good chance to see a sailfish or cobia or even a big dolphin tailing down sea anywhere from 120 to 240 feet of water, especially when the wind is out of the northeast and the current is ripping to the east. It's just an exciting time of year overall around here, both offshore and in the backcountry.
Hump activity is heating up both on the surface and near the bottom. Blackfin and skipjack tuna abound near all of the humps offshore this month. Nine times out of 10, the little tiny black birds will tip you off as to where the tunas will surface next.
Amberjack and a few snappers near the bottom are available also right now at the hump area, but so are the sharks, which can present a predatory problem of landing fish in whole condition. Sharks are present both offshore and in the backcountry in the Spring. They add an additional level of challenge to our sport of fishing. I like a good challenge once in a while.
Keep me posted on what you caught!
Capt. Donald Deputy has been covering the sport of fishing in the areas of the upper Keys for almost twenty years. Reach him direct at email@example.com with your personal fish tales and photos.