Just Reel Fishing Charters: Anna Maria Island Fishing Report April 12, 2023

Warm temps, clear water and gator trout — AMI April trifecta

 April fishing around Anna Maria Island is shaping up nicely. 

With almost zero rainfall, the bays and inland waters are about as clear and emerald green as they can get —especially along the beaches. 

Anglers are enjoying mild 78-degree water temperatures, which are perfectly suited for a quick dip to cool off from the springtime sun. The tranquil, inviting waters of the Gulf of Mexico are hypnotizing as they meet with the white sugar sand perfectly suited for an evening walk before sunset. 

But wait a minute. 

We know what the main attraction in April on AMI is for us — fishing. 

Anglers from far and wide are finding themselves uncontrollably urging their families to go on vacation to Anna Maria Island in April so that once here they can sneak out to experience some of the best fishing of the year. 

Targeting gator trout in April comes to mind. Typically April in our area is favorable when targeting big trout — 20 inches or larger. And with the famous trout waters of Sarasota Bay just a few miles to our south, you stand a good chance of finding big trout. 

Even with the recent destruction of our grass flats due to red tide some years back, Sarasota Bay is gradually rejuvenating and the gator trout are back. 

Although the trout fishing is very good, don’t limit yourself to just the buck-toothed fish. Explore the mangrove shorelines and oyster bars, where predators such snook and redfish can be found prowling around in search of a snack. Both species are prone to eating a live shiner placed properly in front of their nose. 

If you desire to fish slightly deeper water, the wrecks and reefs in Tampa Bay, and some of the deeper grass flats are holding Spanish mackerel. These springtime macks are larger than normal, with some reaching 28 inches in length. And, on light spinning gear, a mack of this size can entertain the most seasoned angler with drag-screaming runs combined with erratic changes of direction in a split second. The fish rank at the top among light-tackle sports fishing.

On my own Just Reel fishing charters, I am in pursuit of spotted seatrout and I’m finding quality fish from Miguel Bay south to Sarasota Bay. Most catches are falling in the slot of 15-19 inches with many others being released due to being over the slot-limit. In fact, I’ve seen many trout in the range of 20-24 inches. 

On deeper grass flats, I’m finding a mix of Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and bluefish. All of these species are crowd-pleasers on light spinning tackle as they fight hard for their size and bite when schooled up. 

Lastly, I am finding snook and redfish along the mangrove shorelines during the incoming tides. Both are eating live shiners.