April “Snook Balls”
April marks early stages of our premier fishing. March is our transition month here in Everglades National Park and the 10,000 Islands. The weather warms significantly in March so the area starts thawing out from winter and returning to is sub-tropical normalcy. Schools of bait descend on the shorelines with the predators not far behind. March has one big problem ... the wind.
By the time April rolls around, March winds have subsided and the weather is usually very predictable. For those of us who lucky enough to live here, this is the most welcomed gift of April. You can count on relatively calm winds, cool mornings, warm afternoons and very little rain. The real prime-time of summer and fall is on the way!!
The fish that begin to show up in March take up residence here in April and stay until the cold returns in late December. The tarpon migrating offshore turn in to the area feed on the abundant forage amongst the islands and beaches. Fortunately, a good, reliable population stays around through the summer and fall. Summer and fall are the best times, but those targeting big fish can certainly get it done in now as April has its share of silver king launches.
April is also the last month of the spring snook season on Florida’s West Coast. The big fish, the Common Snook, begin to move in from offshore this month. Large schools of fish “splash” the shorelines in April. They move as a school from offshore into the shoreline where they hang tightly together, sometimes for well over a week. Gradually, if left alone, this initial splash of fish will spread out to the structure and ambush points nearby. If you are careful, watchful and do not pressure them too hard, you can fish the same school of fish, following them as they spread or “splash” outwards, for close to two weeks.
Unfortunately, April is also the month many anglers show up for their annual snook harvest. Many come to the Park in April solely to harvest these big fish. For me, there are too many that show up with a “meat” mentality and very little respect for the fishery and their fellow anglers. With limited knowledge of the fishery and limited time for their hunt, April is the time to be careful and patient.
Expect to see boats racing down the shorelines blowing out every fish within 500 yards of the shore. After all with limited time, sometimes the shoreline is the fastest way to get where you are going. You see, if you were to run a few thousands yards offshore and then have to run a few thousands yards back into shore to your next spot, you would probably be wasting close to two minutes of value fishing time! And besides, if you do want to fish all those fish along the shoreline, why should you leave it so someone else can? Those two minutes are just too valuable.
Expect to be fishing a spot and have the opportunity to meet new friends at just about every stop. People are very friendly, but in a hurry in April. They will just motor right up to and start fishing right beside you. This is really great, with over a million acres of water in the Park, you can get really lonely out there sometimes. Isn’t it nice to have new close fishing buddies? However, most that you meet this way are impatient and seem to be in a hurry. They will stick around for about 15 minutes with you and then roar off to meet as many others as they can. April truly is a time for patience if you are snook fishing.
However, the snook do come in from offshore, don’t they? Hmm, I wonder if we can catch them coming in from the “deep” before they make it into the shorelines. You “bet-cha”! The near-shore structure can be absolutely blistering in April. This is the time of the “snook balls”. The offshore waters clear up in April. (the inshore can actually be more turbid due to the algae blooms of spring). The schools of snook “stage” on pieces of structure offshore and feed on the bait fish gathered on there. Commonly, the schools are packed so tightly with fish that it appears to be one big black ball meandering around. Drop a jig into the ball and watch out!
These fish are hungry and aggressive, fattening up for the spawn. If you are lucky enough catch it right, you are in for a spectacular treat. Fish the edge of the school and cut one fish out of the school at a time. Do not motor right up to and send in three baits. You will get three hook ups immediately ... maybe you even get to do it a second or third time, but that will be it. Three snook at a time struggling for their lives, sending out warning signals in a middle of a school of will get the attention of every other fish there.
Fishing the outside of the school gives you a chance to pull out the eight or ten cobia that are acting as circling body guards before you tangle with the snook. When you fish these balls, keep a close eye on the ball ... don’t look away ... don’t look up ... stay focused ... do not get distracted by the hoards of permits in the area. If you start messing with these silly 20 pound speedsters, you simple won’t catch the snook!!
They Kayak Fishing trips in April and from here on out should really be something special ... especially the Mother Ship trips where we use a “mother ship” to haul the fishing kayaks to remote fishing grounds throughout the Park. The kayak trips from April forward should produce snook, redfish, tarpon and trout. We are also looking to catch permit from the yaks ... I can’t wait!!!
Check out the scheduled trips @ www.EvergladesKayakFishing.com ... The summer schedule is up now and the winter schedule will soon follow. These scheduled weekend trips are open forum which means that anyone is welcomed aboard for the trip. If you have a group, try to come during the week for a private trip. These kayak trips are simply wonderful and make an absolutely great family outing!!
If you would like to book a trip with The Captain, contact him @ firstname.lastname@example.org or (239) 695-9107. For more information, visit www.ChokoloskeeCharters.com and www.EvergladesKayakFishing.com
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