April 9 – 11

Spring fishing is what April is all about. The winds of winter are winding down and more consistent weather patterns are taking over, making fishing trips easier to plan.


Kingfish are dominating the nearshore waters as the migration gets in full swing on the West Coast. Photo credit, Hubbard’s Marina, Madeira Beach, Fl.

Kingfish remain the hot topic for many anglers on the west coast, with kingfish tournaments waiting in the wings and big bucks on the line. Anglers from Venice to Clearwater are catching limits of kingfish with ease while trolling #3.5 size L.B. Huntington Drone Spoons or slow-trolling big live baits like blue runners. For those choosing to anchor and chum, a constant chum line of bits of threadfin herring, menhaden, and scaled sardines can enhance the action at the boat while free-lining live pilchards, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, pinfish, blue runners and other baits. Both nearshore waters and offshore wrecks are producing kingfish that are on their migration route northward from the Keys. On the agenda for this weekend is the 29th Annual Spring Suncoast Kingfish Classic being held out of Maximo Marina at the Tiki Docks Bar & Grill, located at 3769 50th Avenue South in Saint Petersburg. The Captain’s meeting begins at 5 p.m., Thursday, April 8. For more information, go to www.suncoastkingfishclassic.com.

Inside the bays and along the coast, you can expect plenty of action with Spanish mackerel. Loads of macks are showing up at the Gulf pier off Fort Desoto, both Sunshine Skyway Fishing Piers, and at just about any jetty or pier on the Gulf. Most any kind of flashy jig moved quickly will get their attention. Flashy spoons like the Clark Spoon Squid in sizes ranging from #0 to #1 are working well.

This time of year, offshore boats can catch a huge variety of fish. One of the boats out of Hubbard’s Marina at John’s Pass reported catching a sailfish. It’s not a regular catch like the variety of snappers and groupers that are landed, but every year a few sails are landed up and down the coast in as close as a mile from shore.


Capt. Ray Markham (L), with a red, and Chris Schwalm (R) with a snook caught on CAL Shads from DOA Lures.

Everyone in the Tampa Bay and surrounding areas are paying close attention to the spill that’s going on at Piney Point along the eastern shoreline in Tampa Bay at the northern reaches of Manatee County. The huge gypsum stacks that feed the holding ponds that hold a combination of acidic salt and fresh water, nitrogen, and phosphorous have breached and have leaked out millions of gallons of pollutants. While experts say the leak has been brought under control, the complete damage to the environment is yet to be seen. Much of the pollutants can feed algal growth that can further cause oxygen depletion and death to fish and other creatures. Red tide can also feed on the decaying algal growth creating another bloom that can be devastating to the coast. Time will tell where we stand, but the time is not to get this issue fixed!

This week, anglers fishing with me fished areas in the proximity of the Piney Point spill. Despite what was going on there, we still caught snook, trout, redfish, black seabasss, gag grouper, jacks, ladyfish, blue runners, a 5-foot blacktip shark and a variety of other fish. All were released in good shape but one trout. The trout wasn’t foul-hooked or abused, but it just turned belly up for no apparent reason.

Other areas along the coast are reporting good action with pompano in several of the passes, continued catches of sheepshead, and greater numbers of snook moving out towards the passes.


Capt. Ray Markham with a nice panfish caught on a fly rod while fishing with Capt. Debbie Hanson of Estero, Fl.

We finally had a dry week. Well, this isn’t the rainy season, but with no rain and winds under 20-knots for a change, just about anyone could get on the water that had the time. With a waning moon, catches were a bit slow at times, but anglers fishing early mornings and evenings had the most to report. Bass in the 2-to 4-pound range were caught on topwater frog lures in several lakes around the region.

Bream continue to show some bedding activity. Some fat fish that are hand-sized make terrific targets for fly anglers using a 3 or 5 wt. fly rod and some foam spider imitations. They fight much harder than you might think, and are a blast to catch. Give them a try.
‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

Capt. Ray Markham


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