APRIL 2020 Fishing Report and MAY Forecast

APRIL 2020 Fishing Report

Capt. Rick Davidson, Editor (grassflats2@yahoo.com)

Sea Hag APRIL Report

I know everyone is having a challenging time this month with social distancing and concerns about family and friends, but the bright spot is that you can go fishing. And people have been. The redfish bite has been on fire. Gag grouper season opened April 1 and if you can get out there, you’ll likely find some dinner over live bottom patches. Kingfish are still migrating as are Spanish mackerel. Here are some of the Sea Hag catches this month, and in the forecast,  I’ll talk about what might be going on as we begin returning to normal.

Courtney Fox brought this nice cobia in for some dinners.
Jemma Brady with a fine redfish
Austin Osborne with an overslot redfish.
Holly Reed with an excellent trout.
Clay Kicklighter and Paul Austin with a mixed bag: sheepshead, kingfish, Spanish and a hog snapper or two.

Kaitlyn Dix with a giant gag grouper.
Mason and Tori ran down to Horseshoe to find this kingfish.

Michael Neu found this creek redfish.

Maggie Murdoch waded into Hagen’s Cove and caught this trout on the second cast.
Future pro Trey Peters and current pro Danny Sheldon with a gator trout.
Dale Reed with a giant trout.
Jennifer Skyler and Avery with a grand cobia.
Madison Norwood found this giant gag fishing with her hubby Chase.
Carson Moon could barely hold up this redfish.
The Clark brothers found a bunch of nice trout on the flats.
Jackson Arnold fished from his kayak and caught this 26 inch redfish at Keaton.
The Tutens at sunset.

MAY Fishing Forecast

The public boat ramps at Steinhatchee and Jena are closed. However, Sea Hag is launching boats that are stored with us. River Haven is launching boats with their lift, and the Good Times Marina has a private ramp that is available to launch. There is strong pressure for the Taylor County Commission to open the ramps. There will be a county commission meeting on May 4 if you would like to share your opinion. Whether the public ramps are open or not, FWC has restrictions on recreational boating, with a fifty-foot distance between boats and no more than ten people on any boat. Additionally, they will break up gatherings on sand bars or islands that are breaking social distancing guidelines. But none of that can stop you from going fishing and enjoying the water and sun. All Steinhatchee restaurants are serving take-out. The Sea Hag can sell you bait, tackle and any lure you could want. All of our excellent guides are available to take you and your family out for a great day on the water, and our rental boats are available, but call in advance because they can get booked up, especially on weekends. Take advantage of what we have and get out there.

The early May tournaments have been cancelled or postponed, but there are two tournaments still scheduled for May: the Hooked on Heroes fundraiser on May 23, and Steinhatchee Community Fishing tournament on May 30. Additionally, the state-wide CCA STAR tournament kicks off on July 1st (CCAFLSTAR.com) . We’re looking forward to scallop season in June hopefully, but we still don’t have dates yet or any further details. Consider making reservations at our cottages well in advance.

Now…where to go? Redfish have been plentiful in creek mouths and schooling in 3 to 4 feet of water. They’ve been taking topwaters and jigs as well as Live Target sardines. Hot locations have been the coastline behind Pepperfish Keys, and the rocks between Bird Island and Tater Island to the south, and the coastline between Fisherman’s Rest, past Long Grass Point and behind Big Grass Island to the north. But in fact, they’re pretty available everywhere, especially over hard structure and near shorelines on flood tides. The trout bite has been good, especially around Piney Point and in 3 to 5 feet outside of Hardy Point. Popping corks with live shrimp or Gulp baits have been productive, but so have topwaters, especially in the morning. Nearshore, look for whitebait or put out a chum block near any of the offshore bars (9 Mile Band, Little Band, One Way Bar) and you’ll attract tons of baitfish and Spanish mackerel and maybe a kingfish or cobia. Offshore, fishing squid over live bottom and rock piles has been productive for both red and gag grouper, and we can look forward to red snapper season opening June 1.

This has been a stressful time for many people and getting on the water is a great way to get a change of scenery and catch some dinner. Please do it safely, maintain distancing, and enjoy your time on the water. We hope to see you this month!

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