This recent weather pattern may have you spending more time at home than on the water, but there is hope on the horizon. Cold weather will eventually give way to spring, and with spring will come the best fishing of the year.
Capt. Todd Romine is looking forward to the weather warming up. Romine has been guiding for nearly 30 years and has experienced his best fishing during warm spring days.
With so much experience on the water, I asked him to share his most memorable day fishing ever.
It was a warm early-April day in the early 2000s. Romine spent the morning loading his bait well with whitebait to go with pass crabs for a journey offshore to catch kingfish. After picking up his clients at 7:30 a.m., they ventured out 7 miles due west of Anna Maria Island. When the fishing started, the action was immediately on.
"Every bait in the water was a kingfish," said Romine, "We couldn't keep them off the hooks."
In a few hours, Romine says they probably caught 30 to 40 kingfish with the bigger ones being around 30 pounds. Catching that many kingfish in a few hours can get tiring, so Romine decided to head inshore to see what they could get next. On the way in, he stopped by the 3-mile reef to see if permit were around. With the light southeast wind, he spotted a school through the calm water. The pass crabs were put to good use, and next thing he knew, it was one after another on permit.
"They had been there a few days prior so I just wanted to check. We caught about a dozen to 15 pounds before leaving them to head inshore," Romine recalled. "The permit are not always around, so that was a pleasant surprise."
So with permit and kingfish in the rearview mirror, they continued the day flats fishing. Romine pulled up to the shoreline around the mouth of the Manatee River, where the catching began on redfish, snook and trout.
"It was about 11:30 a.m. when we started fishing inshore. A large school of redfish was there immediately. After getting tired of catching redfish, we slid down the shoreline, where it was more snook with a few redfish mixed in," Romine said. "The redfish were up to 30 inches, and the biggest snook was probably 35 inches. We probably caught about 80 fish in the area between the redfish, snook and trout."
By 1:30 p.m., Romine began to head for home. He took to the tower of his 24-foot Robin, when his bird's eye view brought the ride home to an abrupt stop.
"I told my clients I was going to run along the Bulkhead and Key Royale bars and might see a cobia. I saw two almost immediately, and we caught one. After that, we kept going along the sandbars and next thing you know we caught five cobia total. The biggest one was 35 pounds."
A fairytale ending to a spectacular fishing day. Days like this have many anglers wondering, is it spring yet?
Capt. Todd Romine can be reached at 941-920-5049.
Have a great fishing day like this? Let me know about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.