The striper fishing has been heating up since my last report and I’m looking forward to a bountiful month of May. Over the past 2 weeks, I snuck down to Homosassa, FL to catch the last week of snook season, chase some cobia, and pluck a few reds n’ trout! Now that it’s out of my system, it’s time to get back on the pond. As of today, due to the recent rain dumps, the lake level is at 1071.93’ MSL, .93’ above full pool. The surface temp is pushing 70 degrees and should see the lower 70’s within a week or two.
Just like my previous report, the stripers are catchable lake wide. I have still been targeting them in the upper and mid reaches of both rivers. Last month the dominant pattern was the freeline and planer board bite. We are now seeing a bit of herring on downlines, 20-30’ coming into play. I’m starting the mornings with a combo spread of weighted freelines, planers, and downlines. Make your adjustments to the producing pattern and depth that you’re marking fish. As ALWAYS during this time of year while you’re pulling the spread, have an angler or two on the bow throwing artificials at the rocks, points, saddles, and banks. The stripers are relating to the same areas as the spotted bass. This is a great way to stay busy with plenty of action. My favorite producers have been a nose hooked white or bone colored fluke, Sabile Magic Swimmers, and Hogy Paddle Swimbaits.
Recently, I also spent some time taking a class offered by The University of Florida (UF/IFAS), Sea Grant Florida, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission called “Florida Friendly Fishing Guides”. Even though I primarily guide in Georgia, this program recognizes fishing guides who are committed to preserving the future of fisheries through sustainable boating and fishing techniques. "Florida Friendly Fishing Guides," provide a richer fishing experience for their clients through their angling expertise and environmental stewardship. To assist keeping our clients healthy and happy, and to preserve sustainable fishing habits for future generations, we anglers must ensure that we follow the best practices when out on the water. This course offers an in-depth background in fishery management, marine ecology, ethics, catch and release techniques, understanding of waterways, sustainable waste management and fueling, seafood safety, onboard materials, and simply giving back. I believe our conservation efforts as anglers are one of the most important values and practices where we can all do better. We should educate our fellow anglers and clients as part of the daily fishing experience we offer. There is more to it than just putting fish in the box. Click the images and links below if you would like more information on the program and to find a Florida Friendly Fishing Guide. I am listed under the Big Bend Region in Homosassa, FL. Hope to see y’all on the water soon!
-Capt. Andrew Hammond