Kayak fishing on the Nature Coast has been somewhat a challenge this past month. High winds, severe thunderstorms, and some of the lowest water levels the area has seen in recent history kept many anglers off the water. Add to that, the early springtime cold fronts that didn’t get the memo about winter being over, and we had fluctuating temperatures complicating our warming trend! Now that we’re into May, the temperatures look to be on the rise, though we’re still dealing with some gusty winds, but the fish should be settling into their normal, warm weather patterns.
We’re seeing fewer big trout on the inside, as most have made their way out to the deeper gulf waters. We are, however, still finding some quality keeper trout and lots of underslots. Look for deeper holes and grassy flats with sandy potholes. Trout aren’t usually very finicky about their diet, and will strike just about anything that crosses their path. Shrimp, pinfish, soft plastics on a jighead, and suspended plastics are all good options, though you may have to play around to find what they’re hitting best.
We’re getting some great quality redfish and snook coming in. When the water is low, the redfish are staging up around the mouths of canals and oyster beds, waiting to ambush passing prey. Gold spoons work great as a search bait, as well as live shrimp on a jighead, depending on your preference of live or artificial baits. Pinfish are excellent bait, as well. I like to tail hook them and freeline them in the shallow water, sometimes clipping the tail fin off creating an injured fish that will attract a predators attention. When the water starts rising on an incoming tide, you’ll find the redfish cruising the grass and mangrove lines and heading into creeks and canals, where water is pushing bait into. Drifting a shrimp or pinfish under a cork up to the mangroves and grass is a most productive method, as it allows you to keep your distance without spooking the fish. Soft plastics on a jighead or weighted hook and gold spoons worked slowly along the bottom have also productive.
Moving water and sandy underwater shorelines are key places to find snook. Like the redfish, they’ll cruise the mangroves and grass lines when the water levels rise, and can be enticed with shrimp or pinfish under a cork just the same. Topwater lures are excellent for snook, such as the Heddon Spook or Rapala Skitterwalk. Live bait, such as mullet, ladyfish and large pinfish, are great for luring the larger snook out of hiding and in for a catch! I’ve been very successful with the snook the past few weeks, slowly jigging a soft plastic over grassy drop offs.
Cobia are also making their way into the area. Large live baits, such as pinfish, mud minnows, lady fish, and even catfish, are great baits to put in front of a cobia. These fish are dangerously strong and get pretty frantic when landed, so I don’t personally recommend landing one unless it’s a keeper that can be gaffed before being brought onto your kayak.
I hope you all get plenty of chances to get out on the water & catch some great fish. Keep what you must, but remember, the big fish are our spawners and the future of our fisheries, so CPR (catch, photo, release) is a great way to assure our future generations get to enjoy the sport as much as we do!
Until next time, Tight Lines & Good Times to everyone! Catch em Up!!
Hey y’all! My name is Jacinda. I live in Citrus County, and am a Kayak Fishing guide out of Ozello, Florida.
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