Weather this week:
We are on a first quarter moon this weekend with a weakening front moving through sometime Sunday. This approaching system should help the fish get a little excited and moving this weekend. Then behind the front a strong high pressure settles in for a easterly strong wind flow through the work week coupled with lighter tidal flows which will make it tougher during the week. Then we have a full moon next weekend with the high backing off as a front pushes down again. Best fishing will likely be over the weekends due to this pattern. During the week, look for wind protected shorelines and capitalize on moving water; if you can find the bait you will find the fish.
Redfish action has been super prolific around the area this past week with some good numbers of redfish being caught along dock lines, grass flats, mangrove shorelines, oyster bars and edges. At night, you can find them on the bottom around dock lights and bridge lights too. White bait has been king this past week and live shrimp a close second. While those using artificials seemingly always favor the soft plastic paddle tail in the white, penny, and darker green colors. Mullet schools will be flushing more and more often, and these big schools of fish will have the redfish in tow. Find the mullet and you will find the redfish working the same areas on the flats often, if not every time.
Snook action has been tougher around the area this past week. We have had great weather and that has brought nearly crystal-clear waters to the area. Couple that with warmer than normal waters and the snook are leader shy, spread out, and super finicky to get chewing. However, if you can find them and then find them eating, you will have no problem catching a few, but getting them to eat has been a challenge. This past weekend there was a kid’s tournament at Johns Pass, and you could watch schools of snook swimming between the live shrimp, cut bait, white bait, and pinfish without eating anything due to the clear water. Even the lightest leaders and free lined baits wouldn’t fool them into eating.
Sheepshead action has been picking up around the structures of the area and even around the oyster bar edges, mangroves, and edges of the flats. However, the dock lines, bridges, piers, jetties, and seawalls are the areas they seem most concentrated. You can find them eating small pieces of shrimp, fiddlers, sandfleas, barnacles, or cut pieces of clams or oysters. You can even chum for these guys around docks or bridges if you arrive when tide is changing. You can simply scrape the piles clean of oysters, barnacles, or growth and that will bring the sheeps around making it easy to catch plenty of sheepshead.
Trout action is steady around the area, nothing crazy, but you can find them if you work for it. However, the trout action around the area is slower than we would like to see for this time of year. You can find them around the potholes, cuts, edges, and shorelines around mangroves, dock lines, bridges, passes, and cuts. Live shrimp, white bait and even smaller pinfish work for trout. Soft plastics and imitation shrimp are a great idea for targeting trout with artificials.
Black drum around the area are biting well around the docks, piers, jetties, and bridges. Typically, we find them best with crabs or shrimp on the bottom. They love crustaceans on the bottom around the structures. Also, the mouths of creeks, bayous, and bays are good areas to find them too. Mangrove shorelines will also have some black drum cruising looking for baits.
Triple tail are still pretty thick around the area, but not quite as concentrated as they were. You have to really look for them but if you find them under most every buoy, marker or debris will hold these fish.
Hogfish bite is going well for us near-shore around 40-70ft of water where we are seeing lots of these good eating fish. However, they are really tricky to dial in. Even if you have the best technique, tackle, and correct bait; sometimes the person next to you will catch the keeper while you get bycatch or little ones. Lighter tackle and minimal weight helps to target the hogfish with around 30lb floro leader and 3-4ot hooks. We use three methods that really help us to target the hogfish; either the knocker rig, jig head method or the ball jig approach. With the knocker rig, some will even add 4-5 of the smaller red beads between the egg sinker and hook to give the rig some ‘noise’ and we presume this added clicking of the beads is what attracts the curious hogfish to bite these rigs. Some days this really works, other days it may not help. However, it is worth a shot to try a bit of everything right?
Gag grouper are moving in better near shore as well right now, but this little warm spell seems to have slowed that down a bit. However, we are finding the occasional keeper gag in the near shore waters. You can find some smaller spots that are loaded down near shore, but it takes some effort, skill and a little luck to get into the right areas. Live pinfish work really well with around 60lb test near shore tied to a 6ot hook.
Mangrove snapper are showing up near shore and a few of them mixed in while targeting the hogfish and gags on those ledges, rock piles, and hard bottom near shore. Kingfish are still around near shore but they are seemingly pretty few and far between. We caught a few last week, but this week they eluded us while we did see some kingfish evidence we were unable to harvest one successfully.
Offshore Fishing Report
The gag grouper bite was a little tougher for us on this mid-week trip, but still caught more than two dozen nice gags out there in the deeper offshore waters. We are hoping this weekend will bring a stronger gag bite especially ahead of this looming front. Typically the gag grouper bite goes really well as they sense the approaching low. We are seeing them acting a little leader shy offshore, especially the more schoolie sized gags, in the 24-32 inch range. The bigger gags right now are around 18-25lbs and are around the 100-160ft of water compared to the summer when we are fishing up to 250ft for red snapper. This time of year, the more average sized to medium gags are on the move to fatten up before their long springtime pilgrimage to their spawning aggregations in deep water. Due to this, we are seeing a lot of guys and gals starting with 80lb leaders and if the bite is picky dropping to 60lb and getting more chances at hookups. However, as you lighten your leader the chance for breaking off a nice gag exponentially increases. Live pinfish, pigfish, and squirrelfish have been great live bait options. However, we are seeing plenty of these guys on dead baits too.
Mangrove snapper action has been steady offshore, and we are seeing some big girls in the 7-9lb range. Look for them on the ledges, rock piles and potholes and use that double snell rig with threadfin chunks. They are more leader shy though and it takes around 40lb test to really dial in on those finicky smart fish.
Tuna have been around offshore and we are seeing them trolling and on the flat lines. The kingfish action has been sporadic but present out there in the offshore water. Plus, you never know when a wahoo may roll up on you offshore.