Grouper season opens Friday, April 1st. FWC announces “State waters off the coast of Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties will open to recreational harvest of gag grouper starting April 1. This regional season will remain open through June 30. The season includes all waters of Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass, including those in Gulf County, and all waters of the Steinhatchee River, including those in Dixie County.
For those of you heading out to chase those fun to catch, great tasting fish, winds around the Big Bend area won’t be nearly as bad as originally forecast, but caution is still needed. (word has it gags are in close by)
This is a great time of year to be on the water and catch trophy fish. Many inshore species are feeding heavily after a long, cold winter. Pelagic are making their way back and follow large schools of bait heading to the warm, shallow water near shore. Just this past week while chasing redfish and seatrout, school after school of Crevalle Jack could be seen wolf-packing up and down the shallows in search of bait fish. Hook one of those baby’s and be ready for a fight! They’re like trains with a full head of steam, can turn on a dime and will not quit until they’re plumb wore out!
FWC has available different programs, both freshwater and saltwater that enables anglers of all ages to be recognized for their achievements. One program in particular is “Catch a Florida Memory”. Simply take a picture of your fish on a measuring device like a ruler, hold it up take another and submit. Visit MyFWC.com for details.
Not sure what to do this weekend? FWC has invited Florida residents to come on out and try their luck freshwater fishing. No license, no worries. It’s FREE. Not many things in life are free so take advantage. Here is FWC’s press release.
“The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) invites Florida residents and visitors to go freshwater fishing during the two license-free days this weekend, April 2-3.
License-free freshwater fishing days provide an excellent opportunity for those new to fishing without needing to first purchase a license. On these days, the fishing license requirement is waived for all recreational anglers, including residents and non residents. All other rules including seasons, bag and size limits still apply.”
Until next week, stay dry, be safe, have fun and ALWAYS wear your life jacket while boating!
Otto Hough (myhometownfishing.com) says,” Mother Nature allowed anglers who were fortunate enough to be able to fish this past Monday and Tuesday to find fish. The trout and redfish bite in front of the new moon was off the chain. With water temps now hovering around the seventy degree mark, just about every species of fish that frequents the waters of the Big Bend over the next six months or so have arrived on schedule, much to the delight of all. The post new moon tidal flows will be significant during this three day stretch, with the late morning low Friday amplified by a north wind of the hill.
"Sadly, just as good as it was to start the week, another bad squall system pushed across Apalachee Bay Wednesday on through Thursday with a severe band of weather. It appears that potentially stiff backside frontal winds out of the north will linger around for the first half of Friday opening day of Gag grouper season over our four county Big Bend Zone. Remember, it's State waters only for gags. Federal waters reopen June 1. While the nearshore waters should be relatively smooth with a light chop in protected waters to afford an opportunity to enjoyably fish the flats, outside conditions may still be iffy. Fishing conditions further away the hill about a mile or so past the St. Marks Refuge buoy line on outside to the State waters 9-Mile Limit, if targeting the Opening day gags, likely won't too enjoyable as the current NWS marine forecast is calling for seas 3 to 5 feet. Which, if that forecast holds true, it's just another cruel April Fools day joke by Mother Nature. Six of the past eight opening days for gags have been blown away by stiff winds. Hopefully this system moves on through quickly, calming down early in the day to allow for some afternoon gag grouper fishing on Opening day. Not much doubt, the fingers of every angler anticipating Opening day shall be crossed, hoping.
"Saturday, the chance of rain over Apalachee Bay along with east winds enters the mix of fishing conditions. As such, anglers can expect to encounter somewhat windy and wet marine conditions over Apalachee Bay for half the weekend. With some luck, Sunday conditions ought to at least afford one real good day to fish the waters of the Big Bend over these next three days .
"Given the potential for on and off windy conditions these next three days, please make certain all the required safety gear is on board, especially the PFDs. As is always the case on board my boat, every angler shall be wearing an auto-inflatable PFD. Also, make sure to check marine conditions, along with filing a float plan with someone before heading out to catch 'em up. Boat safely, enjoy Apalachee Bay. Just FISH!"
ST GEORGE ISLAND
Captain Russ Knapp (850-653-5072) reports, “Weather for the weekend at this time looks ok with seas at 2 to 3 feet, winds 10 to 15 knots and a 50% chance of rain Saturday. As we tell you every week be sure to recheck forecast at the National Weather Service Marine Forecast before you cast off. Whatever you do don't look at the Marine Forecast in our local paper as it's for the Shell Point area and is totally different than the Gulf off St George.
"In the bay, Capt. Dan Fortunas (850-980-0101) reports the fish are here and they are looking for a meal. Over slot Redfish are in the Cut and would love for you to offer them a nice Finger Mullet drifted along the bottom. Speckled Trout can be found both on the flats and around the ends of the SGI causeway, for the flats a Cajun Thunder with a Gulp hung 18" under it is the trick while the causeway Trout really would like a fresh or live Shrimp fished on the bottom. The Sheepshead are still around the bridge pilings and the ends of the oyster bars, a live fiddler crabs is always a treat for them but they won't pass up a fresh or live shrimp. The first of the Pompano have been caught both off the beach and around the Cut but it's been hit or miss so far but promises to get better any day.
"Offshore, Capt. Clint Taylor (850 370 6631) is catching good Red Grouper on squid while fishing on live bottom out 20 miles or more. Capt. Clint reports that the Spanish Mackerel and Kingfish have been showing up in our waters but the bite has so far been off and on. For you recreational anglers the big news is the opening of Gag Grouper season in state waters with live bottom being your best bet to escape the hordes of Red Snapper infesting our wrecks and reefs.
"Tip of week -- as the water warms up the Manatees will be on the move and they need you to pay attention for them and be very careful not to run them over. Wearing polarized sunglass' is a must while watching for large circles on the water or a snout sticking up both which indicates a manatee in the water. If you do find a Manatee that needs help, please call 888 404 FWCC or go to #FWC and report its location. FWC asks that you don't try and help it on your own but just stay close until trained professionals can reach the location and provide proper assistance."
Captain Pat McGriff of One More Cast (firstname.lastname@example.org) says, “We’ll be back next week!”
Bass are in all stages of the spawn. Great time to catch in many different ways. Pre-spawn fish will weigh the most. They’re also very hungry. Bedding bass are pretty easy to catch to if that’s your target. Post spawn, now so much. Although find a male bass guarding fry and hold on! Anything that moves by bass will strike at, letting them know to stay away. If you do get a bite on a fast moving bait like a frog, buzz bait or spinner bait and don’t hook up, toss back into that same area with a soft plastic bait. The lighter the weight the better. You’ll be amazed how many times you’ll catch that fish.
With all this rain, you would expect Lake Jackson to have water overflowing into yards. This is not the case this year. Looks like it’s gonna take another 2’ of rain to fill her back up.
Capt. Paul Tyre reports, “The Bass fishing on Lake Seminole has been EXCELLENT this week! The Bass remain shallow and are hitting moving baits like Spinnerbaits and Buzzbaits especially with the weather conditions we have had the last week.
"The water temperature is in the low to mid 60’s and the lake has a stain due to the recent rains we have had. We expect the Bass fishing to remain very good as the Bass move into their post spawn patterns. I had a fantastic time with pastor Matt Grimes from McDonough Georgia this week we had excellent day we caught over 20 Bass, with several in the 6 pound range!
"The Shellcracker will be bedding in April and is exciting way to introduce kids into fishing. For a Lake Seminole Fishing Adventure for Shellcracker and/or Bass this April give me a call to check availability at 850-264-7534 , follow us on Instagram @ Capt.paultyrefishing or email me @ email@example.com."
This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Happy Fishing! Check out this weekend's Big Bend fishing report