A redfish caught on a shrimp fly out of mosquitto lagoonA redfish caught on a shrimp fly out of mosquitto lagoon

What fish to target in spring, and how to catch them! 

Winter is over, and it's time to get back on the water! Early spring can be one of the most challenging times of the year to fish, but if you get it dialed in it's well worth it. The weather is changing and so is the location and behavior of our favorite fish, being aware of these patterns is the key to putting more fish in the boat this spring. Here we'll go over some of our team's favorite fish to target, and techniques to catch them. Use this advice to get dialed in quickly and make the most of your time on the water! 

Redfish on the fly

Written by: Jason Strub 

Spring is one of my favorite times to target redfish in the estuaries of Central Florida. Coming off the cooler winter months the water clears up quite a bit which makes for excellent sight fishing opportunities on the fly! The downside to the clear water is that these fish are very spooky so stealth is the key! Fishing out of a technical poling skiff or a kayak will allow you to sneak up on these fish and get in casting range without spooking them off the flats. I will also scale down my tippet to 16lb fluorocarbon although you can go as low as 12lb. There aren't a lot of baitfish in the lagoons this time of year so a majority of these fish are feeding on shrimp or blue crab so any shrimp or crab patterned fly will do the trick in keeping your line tight! Flyfishing can be a bit intimidating to some anglers, if that's the case you can fish the same areas with conventional spinning tackle and small soft plastic swimbait or artificial shrimp. If your looking to get into fly fishing go to your local fly shop, they can offer the guidance you need to get started. 

Tackle Selection 

Rod: 7-8wt Fly Rod 

Line: Flyline with a tapered leader and 12-20lb tippet 

Fly: Shrimp or crab patterns 

Catching largemouth bass on bladed jigs 

Written by: Capt. Luke Taylor

My favorite early spring lure for bass is the zman jackhammer chatterbait with a zoom super fluke used as the trailer. As the water starts to warm the bass start moving shallow to spawn. Large grass flats close to clear, shallow water are a common hangout for early spring bass. Fan casting these grass flats with a chatterbait allows you to cover a lot of water quickly and effectively. Adjust your lure size/ weight to make sure you're grazing the tips of grass or structure. Key in on areas with structure, close to both deep and shallow water. It's important to have a rod that has enough bend to let the fish turn on the bait, yet rip the lure free of the grass. That's why I prefer the 7'4" medium heavy  Phenix M1 series, it's a good balance of strength with not too fast of an action. In light grass or clear water, fluorocarbon will get you more bites. However, when fishing thicker grass braided line is almost necessary in order to rip the bait free of the grass and pull bigger fish out of heavy cover. 

Tackle Selection 

Rod: Phenix MX-74MH

Line: 15lb Trikfish fluorocarbon or 50lb braid

Lure: Zman Jackhammer 

captain luke taylor with a largemouth bass caught while fishing grass flats with a chatterbait captain luke taylor with a largemouth bass caught while fishing grass flats with a chatterbait

Speckled trout with popping corks  

Written by: Matt Porter

Late winter and early spring are great times to catch big speckled trout! The great thing about speckled trout is that they can be caught all across the coast of the southeast United States. They are usually pretty eager to eat live or artificial shrimp. I have found the most effective combo to be a live shrimp on a popping cork, with a 24” 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I prefer a 1/0 circle hook and rig my shrimp behind the head. When it's windy add a small split shot halfway up the leader to keep the shrimp down. Look for areas with seagrass or shell beds in 4-8ft deep water, being close to a channel or deeper water is the trick to finding bigger fish

Tackle Selection 

Rod: 7' Medium action inshore spinning or casting rod

Line: 30lb braid, with a 30lb fluorocarbon leader

Lure: Live shrimp or gulp shrimp

Night fishing for crappie

Written by: TJ Corcoran

 The early spring is a great time to catch both quality and quantity of Black Crappie. I like to target areas with submerged or visible structures such as bridges. During the later winter months, the fish tend to stage in deeper waters preparing to move into shallower water to spawn. Once they move into the shallow water they can normally be found in and around tall grass. During this transition period, you can do very well catching crappie at night using smaller jigs; I prefer ⅛ oz myself tipped with either some type of soft plastic or a live minnow. One of the keys that I have found that attracts large amounts of fish at night is using a green underwater light. This creates an artificial ecosystem around the area of your boat/area you are fishing by attracting small baitfish and thus attracting larger fish including Crappie.

Tackle Selection 

Rod: Medium-light 6'6" spinning rod

Line: 8lb Monofillament 

Lure: 1/8oz Crappie Jig 

Tm corcoran night fishing for crappie in floridaTm corcoran night fishing for crappie in florida