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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Local Fishing Report from Kingfisher Fleet/Capt. Ralph Allen, Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor, April 2013

by on Apr.01, 2013, under Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, Upper Charlotte Harbor

Gulf of Mexico

Finally we can catch the making of a fresh grouper sandwich!  Red grouper season opened April 1 (along with the season for a few other, seldom-caught groupers) and the fishing for them is good on flat limestone rock patches starting in about 65 feet of water, and deeper.  One of the things that make red grouper so popular is that they can be caught on a wide variety of live and dead baits, though there are days when live pinfish or squirrelfish produce the best results.  Lane snapper, mangrove snapper, porgys, grunts and triggerfish have all been good on the same type of bottom in the same depths, so your odds of success are good while bottom fishing.  Not all the offshore action requires a run of 20 miles or more.  Shark fishing is already heating up along the coast (an unusual number of sharks were caught all winter this year) and all signs point to a busy shark season in the coming weeks.  Look for sharks within a few miles of the beach where they can be chummed up just about anywhere, though fishing around wrecks or reefs seems to up the odds.  Scattered schools of fish from the spring Spanish mackerel run arrived in Charlotte Harbor approximately the third week of March, and the action on these fish should turn red hot by early April.  The “other” mackerel, the larger king mackerel, usually arrive a few weeks after the Spanish mackerel run cranks into high gear, so it won’t be long now until smoker kings are zinging drags around offshore wrecks, reefs and schools of bait.

Charlotte Harbor

Rapidly warming water has fish on the move in Charlotte Harbor.  Trout are fanning out onto the flats, where they are joined by cruising cobia and bonnethead sharks.  Some blacktip, spinner, lemon and bull sharks are here now, but more will appear later this month and can be targeted along the edges of flats and bars, especially in the area between Cape Haze Point and the ICW.  Redfish and snook are moving out of the rivers and canal systems and are traveling outbound along the mangroves on both sides of the harbor.  As the water temps continue to climb these fish will begin to feed more on white baits and less on shrimp, a transition that’s already underway.  Canal, creek and bridge fishing for sheepshead and black drum is slowing down, but some of each will be taken this month.  Inland fishing for Spanish mackerel has been off-and-on for several weeks, but will switch into “full-on” mode any time now, offering hot action for anglers working the artificial reefs, the Cape Haze Bar and anywhere schools of bait are present.  Tarpon will show in fishable numbers sometime this month, though our cooler-than-normal March weather may delay their appearance somewhat.


*Snook season closed until September 1, 2013

*Gag grouper season is closed, opens July 1, season length to be determined

*All other grouper opened April 1

*Greater amberjack will close June 1, open August 1

*Red snapper season opens June 1, season length estamated at 21 days

Let’s Go Fishing!

Capt. Ralph Allen

For more information, call (941) 639-0969

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