What's a gator trout eat? In this week's case, a 10-inch ladyfish. Cape angler Justin Bodine's nearly 7-pound trout proves that not all the big gator trout live in northern Florida and that trophy sized fish like big meals.
Experienced trophy trout anglers know to throw their biggest topwaters before sun up to bag a true gator here in Southwest Florida. Beginners should understand that a wise old trout in skinny water in the still of dawn is smart, alert and will disappear like a ghost if slightly disturbed.
Try and stay off the trolling motor, pole or drift and remain still as well as quiet. Make long casts without excessive body movements. Rocking hulls send out pressure waves alerting every fish in the area to your presence. Sorry, your trophy left the area before your first cast. Fish hard - fish smart.
The moon and tides are strong this weekend and the fishing will be hot. Snook are ambushing live baits and artificials around structures with some 30+ pounders being reported by bridge anglers. Strong outgoing tides at the passes funnel bait and crabs to hungry tarpon and jumbo snook waiting for an easy meal.
For snook lures nothing beats the DOA Shrimp for skip casting under docks. (If you're not skip casting under docks and mangrove branches, you're not showing your player to at least 50 percent of the fish in the area). Try glow or gold glitter. The white bucktail is the go-to lure for sunrise beach walking snookers.
My favorite is the MirrOdine twitch bait which has been a snook's worst enemy this past month. Fish the large size with 60 to 80-pound leaders around structure if you're serious about bagging a 35 pounder this spring.
If you do catch that linesider of a lifetime, try and release the big girl in the water and give her ample time for recovery.
Dolphins and sharks love an easy meal. Our local dolphins follow fishing boats waiting for you to release your fish. Hold your trophy boatside til "Flipper" passes by whenever possible.
Hopefully the winds will be calm and the offshore gang can get out to a mixed bounty of reef fish.
If you want an offshore experience that won't break your bank, try a day or night trip out of Fort Myers Beach on a local party or head boat. Just walk on, everything is provided including bait. Complete beginners are welcome and the mates will show you the ropes and have you catching quickly. If it's your first time, eat some ginger and bring motion sickness tablets just in case you get a little queasy. (Sea Trek 239-765-7665 Capt. Tony's Fishing Adventures 239-415-0515)
Heading to a near shore reef in your flats or bay boat this weekend? Our summer weather pattern has started with afternoon storms the norm. As the captain, everyone's safety is in your hands. Bad weather decisions mixed with small boats fueled by a few too many can result in you and yours showing up in the wrong section of the newspaper.
Redfishing under the shrubs with cut bait, pinfish or shrimp on the high tides. Shorelines, oyster bars, docks on the lower phases.
Sharks are swimming shallow and deep in our area and make for great light or monster tackle fun. Anchor and melt a chum bag and soon "Jaws "will come calling to find your dead bottom baits or that lady fish under a balloon behind the boat. Get them really excited and watch one hammer your large topwater plug.
Tarpon are biting everywhere and if you're looking for a new spot away from the crowd, check out your map for a view of all the random deep holes scattered over the miles of flats. A 4-foot deep ditch, 25 yards long surrounded by 2-foot deep flat is often a fish magnet and will hold huge tarpon.
Be safe this weekend!