Well it’s mid-April and the flats and backcountry of Islamorada and the Florida Keys are buzzing. For the most part the weather and the water have been warm but winter still has her claws in us a bit in the form of the occasional cold front and winds out of the north. On days like that that tarpon bite has turned off but the good thing is a couple of nice days of weather and they’re back on the feed. These fish should really start pushing once the weather settles a bit. We’re practically into May and the season will be peaking shortly. If you’re planning a tarpon trip, think “big game hunting”. It’s not a numbers game and there are no guarantees. If you’re serious about boating a tarpon, consider booking at least three days. A lot goes wrong while tarpon fishing and sometimes the fish are tight lipped. Booking multiple days only increases your odds. The good thing is, you only need one! Get a 80, 100 or 100 pound plus tarpon to the boat and you’ll forget any sacrifice you had to make to reach that point!
One of the great things about this time of year is while everybody has tarpon on the brain, the redfish and snook in the backcountry are on fire and unmolested. April is a great month for redfish as they bunch up to spawn. You can find large schools of big fish pushing wakes and tailing on the calm days. The past couple of weeks the snook fishing has really heated up. I’m finding more and more juvenile fish which is great news and means that this awesome gamefish is making a strong comeback since the winter of 2010. Far easier on fly when you can find them in the open, snook love cover, so be prepared to make accurate casts into the mangroves. Sometimes putting a fly a foot deeper back into the mangrove roots means the difference of getting bit or not. In addition to the redfish and snook, the trout bite has been excellent, with some large 4 – 5 pound breeders around gifscollection.com. While not the “Gator” trout they catch in northern Florida, they’re big for the Keys and great on light tackle. Also running around back have been the bad boys of the backcountry, the Jack Crevalle. We’ve gotten into some tackle busting behemoths of 10 -12 pounds. How these fish ever got the title of “Trash Fish” I will never understand. Who cares if you can’t eat them! They will smoke you! I’m sounding like a broken record when it comes to bonefish but it’s been hit or miss and the hits haven’t been all that great. Permit are still around but not in the large numbers of the last month but who cares, they’re permit!
As an ending note, just want to say thanks to James and Tabitha. We spread Jame’s father’s ashes in Sandy Key Basin this week. It was an honor to be part of that ceremony. It was a windy, rotten day but we finished up with a big, glistening redfish tail waving at us that just had to have Jame’s fly. Heaven sent? Until next time. -Pete