Springtime saltwater fishing in Southwest Florida is exciting and offers opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. With the arrival of warmer weather and longer days, the fish are becoming more active, making it the perfect time to hit the water and wet a line with friends and family alike.
One of the most popular species to target in springtime is snook. These hard-fighting fish are typically found inshore along mangrove shorelines, grass flats, near docks, and around bridges. They are known for their acrobatic leaps and powerful runs, making them a fan favorite. Snook are best targeted with live bait such as pilchards (whitebait), shrimp, or pinfish, but if you decide to go the artificial route, give jigs or soft plastics a shot. Remember to handle them carefully and release them quickly to ensure their survival as they are closed to harvest from May 1-Aug. 31. You can find snook regulations here:
Another prized species making its presence felt in springtime is tarpon. The “silver king” is famous for its explosive strikes, acrobatic displays, and brute power. They can most often be found along beaches and traversing inlets and passes, but be sure to explore deeper water grass flats as well. Often you can locate them by scanning the horizon and watching for the sun to glint off of their scales as they roll on the surface. To target tarpon, try live baits such as mullet, big threadfin, or the candy of tarpon baits, crabs. Artificial lures such as plugs or swimbaits will often do the trick too. And don’t overlook a large piece of cut bait soaked on the bottom either, as these make easy snacks for big tarpon. Remember to use appropriately sized tackle, and be prepared for a lengthy fight.
Redfish are another species that can be found in abundance during the spring and are often overlooked. These hard-fighting fish can be found in many of the exact locations as snook – crossing shallow water grass flats, hunkered in mangrove shorelines, or nosing their way along oyster bars. To catch redfish, try live bait such as shrimp, pinfish, or whitebait, or give artificial lures such as spoons or soft plastics a shot. If you plan to return the redfish, remember to handle it carefully and release it quickly to ensure its survival.
Our area offers a variety of other saltwater fish to target during the spring, such as trout, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, and grouper. The key is researching the local area and paying attention to the tides; plan your fishing around them to maximize your chances of success. It also doesn’t hurt to chat with a local bait store owner for some insider info on what’s been hitting. Be sure to have knowledge of or access to the rules and regulations for each species you’ll be targeting. FWC is a good place to start:
When planning a springtime fishing trip to Southwest Florida, keeping an eye on the weather is essential. Spring can be a windy season, so be prepared for rough conditions on the water.
If you want to shorten the learning curve and increase your chances of that once-in-a-lifetime catch, look into a local guide like Capt. Terry of Fishface Charters. Guides have invested the time, know the waters, and likely know the most recent fish patterns and meal choices!
Springtime can offer some of the best fishing in Southwest Florida, offering anglers a wide variety of species to target and a chance to experience some of the premier fishing in the country. With a bit of research and preparation, you can have an unforgettable fishing trip and create memories that will last a lifetime.