Both inshore and offshore anglers are praying for a weather break and the weekend looks promising. But fishing after random spring cold fronts in Florida can be a bit frustrating.
In-shore anglers plying skinny waters are affected the most as the fish retreat from the flats and seek comfort in deeper channels, basins and canals. Those blue bird cloudless skies accompanied by a high barometer can make yesterday's fish seemingly disappear from the fishing grounds.
When going offshore this weekend have a cobia rod, rigged to throw a live baitfish or eel to cruising cobia spotted swimming on the surface. Second choice will be a 1-3 ounce colorful feather jig or try one of many plastic eels available also cast on a jighead. Eels are cobia candy and hard for these curious fish to resist.
Capt. George Tunison
If you've never seen cruising cobia your first thought will be "it's a shark." Sometimes alone, often in packs, these odd and tasty fish will swim right up to your boat for a look-see and a softly presented struggling pinfish will work magic.
The cobia is a dogged and determined fighter that never gives in. Play the fish very well before bringing him onboard your vessel. A large and very powerful "green" cobia stuck with a gaff can get out of control in seconds before you can get him in the cooler. A "boat billy" (club) is the most humane way to control this prized gamefish that grows to over 50 pounds and is super on the grill.
One of the most exciting cobia trips you can take occurs at Coco Beach in north Florida. When the giant mantas appear right off the beach they usually are accompanied by one or more large cobia swimming with them. It's quite the sight to see a manta half as big as your boat with 40-pound cobias all over it.
Savvy anglers intercept the rays as they glide along not far under the surface and cast jigs to the hitchhiking cobia for smashing strikes.
While enjoying this fishing always remember these giant mantas have a fondness for doing back flips out of the water, sometimes remarkably high in the air. Having one of these giant rays fall from the sky onto your bay boat, or you, could more than ruin your day.
Trout fishing is picking up with a fat 4.5-pounder taken on my MirrOlure early in the week. If you can't find your trout, break out the shrimp and popping corks and wind drift the flats till you get action.
Redfishing will resume in Pine Island Sound on plugs, soft plastic jigs, and spoons. No luck? Catch some ladyfish and cut up into 1-inch steaks and cast under the bush on the higher tide phases. Never forget shrimp, both live and frozen, works as well. Use circle hooks for a clean release of fish.
Tarpon reports are coming in from the sound and river. Expect to find these guys just about anywhere right now. Remember the magnificent silver king is at times a lowly scavenger and eats practically anything.
The annual Kiwanis Kids Fishing Derby (ages 5-15) is 8:30-11:30 a.m. April 20 at the Yacht Club fishing pier. Check in before 8:30. No pre-registration required. Rod, reels, and bait provided. Younger kids need an adult present to help. Call Wally Laumeyer 772-8678 for info.