Anna Maria Island Fishing Report April 3, 2024

April offers fishing opportunities for all anglers

After weeks of strong winds and frequent cold fronts, Anna Maria Island anglers are anxiously awaiting a more consistent weather pattern and some exceptional April fishing.

If you don’t know, April can be one of the best months to fish in west central Florida. 

Whether you’re a flats guy or you prefer fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, April has something to offer every angler.

Starting with the inshore bite, spotted seatrout should be congregating on most of the deeper grass flats especially the entrances to the smaller bays such as Terra Ceia, Miguel and Sarasota Bay. 

Targeting fish with live baits such as shiners or pinfish is effective, but if you’re feeling sporty, now is the time to break out artificials.

MirrOlure offers great examples to try out. The 84 MR topwater plug is deadly for trout, especially large gator trout that are lurking on the shallow grass flats. 

If you’re fishing slightly deeper flats in depths of 4-6 feet, try the MirrOdine. This suspending bait will not disappoint.

Other action on the inshore bite should include snook and redfish. Both can be found along mangrove edges and oyster bars as they hunt for smaller bait fish, shrimp and crabs.

Free-lined live shiners are best in these scenarios, but don’t dismiss using a fresh-cut piece of pinfish, especially if you’re targeting redfish. Sometimes the reds get lazy as they’re relaxing under the shade of the mangroves and that cut piece of pinfish is just what it takes to lure them to the hook. 

Fishing deeper waters in Tampa Bay can provide good inshore action in April. Patrolling the Sunshine Skyway bridge and the shipping channel towards Egmont Key can present opportunities of cobia as well as other migratory fish including Spanish mackerel and kingfish. You may find jack crevalle, ladyfish and bluefish in these areas.

Moving into the Gulf of Mexico can lead to endless opportunities as the water temps rise. Permit are a sought-after species to target in April around the offshore wrecks and reefs. 

Casting live crabs in these areas can get you connected with these elusive fish. While on the reefs, you may also encounter kingfish, barracuda and cobia as well as plenty of sharks. 

Getting off of the wrecks and reefs and changing to hard bottom areas also has its benefits. Red and gag grouper should be firing off as well as numerous varieties of snapper including lane, vermillion, mangrove and yellowtail. 

When going offshore carry an assortment of live and frozen baits so you’re prepared for whatever you encounter. 

Lastly, fishing the offshore springs should lead to action of both amberjack and African pompano. Both of these tackle-busters can wear out even the most experienced angler.

On my Just Reel charters, I’m finding myself fishing sheltered areas out of the constant winds we are experiencing.

Spotted seatrout have been “trip savers” as limits are being caught most days. Free-lined shiners with the addition of a split shot to the rig are working best. 

Targeting snook is going well most days, although days right after the cold fronts are slightly challenging. While targeting snook, I’m picking up some slot-size reds but these are bonus fish as they are being caught at random. 

Venturing into the Gulf of Mexico is providing action on Spanish mackerel, kingfish and sharks although gaining access to the Guld is difficult due to the frequent windy days.