2016 April Fishing Forecast
Fishing in the Clearwater and Dunedin area is no April fools joke. January and February, the action was so so. March, it started to pick up with the addition of several species showing themselves on the inshore waters. Mackerel, redfish, bluefish and pompano, all increased there numbers in our bay waters. Even saw quite a few snook wondering around the flats in search of food. Catching all of our piscatorial friends in April will dramatically pick up and will continue to get even better.
The perfect scenario in April would be, water temperature in the middle 70’s and bait fish on the grass flats and along the beaches. Coming out of winter, white bait will be available to cast net on any given day in different areas throughout the bays of Clearwater and St. Joseph Sound. You may have to search for the bait but it will be worth it. This will jump start our spring fishing season and fire up our catch’ en action. Pick your species of fish to chase, net up some white bait and go for it.
Trout fishing so far this year has been fair to good throughout the inshore waters. I had several trips with 40 plus fish but only a small proportion of these trout were over 22 inches. Its hard to tell whether its over fishing, commercial or weather related thats contributed and it could be a combination of factors. You can keep 4 trout per person with one of those 4 being 20+ inches. Trout are best eaten fresh not frozen. One 20 inch trout can easily feed two people.
Never the less, trout are out there and will be in their winter and spring locations in April until the water warms up and chases them off. A great area to start looking for trout this April will be to drift the grass flats in St Joseph Sound and Clearwater Bay. Use an incoming or outgoing tide and set up your drift to cover large areas of the bay. You want to be in about 3 to 5 feet of water and drifting over grass and some sand bottom. If one drift does not produce, move back to the top of the drift and do it again in a different drift line. The reason I like this method is because when drifting, you will catch other species like mackerel, pompano and plenty of lady fish. All adding to the overall action of the day. When trout are found, anchor or Power-Pole down and fish that grass area. Using this method, will zero you in on productive trout areas and save time on your next outing.
While drifting, using artificials is a great way to find your trout. I use a 1/8 ounce jig head in white, red or natural lead color and mostly 3” plastics in darker type colors. Any of the root beer shaded colors with sparkle flake works well. Work the gig along the bottom bouncing it once and a while to give it an up down type action. This has been very effective and if there is a trout any where near the gig, she will hit it. Once you find some decent fish, stop the drift and start fishing with live bait. Shrimp or white bait will do the trick and just maybe you will find that 20+ inch gator trout.
Mark your calendars and get out there. Join in the best time of the year to go fishing and prove that April Fools is no joke. And remember to set your hook on some life time memories.
Capt. Gary Burch owns and operates All Catch Charters and specializes in live baits and artificials. He guides inshore, flats and backcountry from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. To reach Capt. Gary for a charter, please call 727 458-6335 or visit his website: