The days have been much warmer on average (this morning was an exception, 29 degrees at my house) and the fishing is really starting to pick up.
The Sheepshead will be spawning soon with inland and beach water temps now staying in the low 60s. The big aggregates of Sheepshead have really made a showing this week on inshore structures. Pre-spawn sheepies are usually hungry and can be caught fairly easily with live fiddler crabs, shrimp, sand fleas and ghost shrimp. Most types of bottom rigs will work as well as free-lining baits in low current areas. The average Sheepshead will run anywhere from 1-4lbs but larger fish up to 10lbs or so may be taken. When fishing bridge pilings and piers, use moderately heavy inshore gear to keep fish out of the structures. I usually fish a 2ft leader of 20lb mono or fluorocarbon with a short shanked hook for Sheepshead and judge my weight size on the current. using slip floats along deeper structure is also very productive on fish that may be suspended.
Other inshore targets right now include Speckled and White trout, Redfish and Flounder. The trout fishing is still fairly slow, but as water temps rise back into the mid 60s the fish will move out of the rivers and creeks and into the open waters of the coastal bays. Fish will usually focus on drop-offs, deeper grass beds and points. Live shrimp or croakers are usually the ticket on springtime specks. Using slip floats rigged at different depths is a good game plan for locating trout during this transition. I also like to put a bait out either free-lined or with a single split shot. Expect Redfish, Black Drum, Sheepshead and others as a common by-catch while trout fishing.
In the surf, the Whiting bite has been slow, but there are still some being caught. There were a few Pompano caught off of Perdido Key last weekend which is a great sign. Watch the water temps on the beach and get your surf gear ready. Once the water reaches 64 degrees or so, Pompano will be a reliable target/ Sand Fleas and Ghost Shrimp will work best for most surf species this month.
There is plenty of action to be had offshore right now when weather permits. Red Snapper and Gag Grouper are closed and shallow water grouper species (Scamp, Red, Black, Yellowfin) are closed outside of the 20 fathom line (120ft). You may harvest shallow water grouper species inside of 20 fathoms. All other bottom species are open for fishing including Amberjack, all other species of Snapper besides Red, Tilefish, Triggerfish and many others.
I got my boat-work wrapped up in time to head offshore late Tuesday morning with my friend Tommy Foreman of Orange Beach and one of my longtime customers and fishing buddy Doug Bean from Iowa. The game plan was to fish for Vermillion Snapper and Amberjack on deeper natural bottom areas and then hit some shallower stuff for Triggerfish and hopefully a Scamp or two. We started out jigging for Amberjack and they ate every lure we dropped. They weren't monsters, but there were plenty of them and they were fun as always. Doug got the bonus fish of the day while we were jigging; a 20lb Blackfin Tuna.
After jigging we dropped some baited rigs and loaded the box with Vermillion Snapper and Red Porgy (White Snapper). The bite was slow at first, but picked up towards the afternoon. Some of the Vermillions were a good size as well, with a few over the 4lb mark and most exceeding 3lbs. After we got our fill there, we headed in and hit some Triggerfish spots. The Triggers weren't huge but all were keepers and at one point Tommy dropped a jig and scored a nice Scamp. All in all it was a very nice day and sea conditions were as flat as it gets.
Praying for nice weather this week. I plan on fishing Sunday through Wednesday if it cooperates.
Sam's Bait and Tackle
27122 Canal Rd
Orange Beach, Al 36561