April 2010


Signs are important. I don't mean the kind you see along the road, I'm talking about the signs you see in nature if you're the kind of person that spends a lot of their life in the outdoors.

For example, if you're a charter captain you would be interested in the signs that would indicate that good fishing is at hand, such as, when the swallow tail kite appears or when the bait schools start to approach the coast or perhaps the most obvious of all, when the snowbirds start to leave. It's sad but true that our visitors from the north leave just about the time the fishing really starts to heat up.

Now I'm not saying the fishing is as good as it gets right now but it's on the way and all signs point to it, REAL signs, like more fish in the boat and more on the cleaning table.

It's apparent to anyone who spends a lot of time on the water that our fish are struggling to recover from our devastating winter but it is likewise apparent that it's beginning to occur. Just this week limits of keeper size snook, some redfish and some black drum were caught. On recent charters with Chip Baker, he landed a 24 inch drum that went to lunch with us and a nice red fish.

Chip's black drum

Likewise, triple tail are still around as evidenced by Griff Gosnell's splendid catch. As the waters continue to warm and as the winds abate, as they usually do around the middle of May, then southwest Florida's fishing will really begin to produce some fine catches.

After guiding in this area for twenty years, I have convinced many of my customers that the best time to visit our area is the spring, summer and fall. Sure it may be a little muggy and the swamp angels (mosquitoes for our northern readers) and no-see-ums are around but these small discomforts are forgotten when the drag is peeling off the reel chasing after a big snook or red fish. And that's just on the water. Ashore you can expect less traffic, no need for dinner reservations and perfect swimming and shelling conditions.

It is now coming upon the time of year when if I'm not working on the water then I'm playing on the water. There are so many thing going on in the warmer water of spring, sometimes I will just drift over the grass flats and watch the fish chase each other, spot manatee and watch the clouds build up along the coast as they prepare to bring us our ever present, dependable and cooling afternoon showers. Our area never gets more beautiful than during these months.


When it's too warm to grill out, I will cook this simple but delicious dish on the stovetop.

White meat fish filets
Cracker meal
Blackening spice (any brand)
Olive oil
Butter (lots)

Mix the blackening spice with the cracker meal according to taste And press the filets in the spice/ cracker mixture until thoroughly covered.

Cook in a very hot stick free pan in the butter and olive oil, (the olive oil lets you cook at a higher temperature without burning the butter).

After one side is done, in about 2 minutes depending on the filet thickness, turn over gently and as the other side cooks, continue to drizzle lemon juice on the cooked and crusty side. You want your filets to cook until the cracker meal begins to brown.

Unbelievingly simple quick and easy. Served with steamed asparagus and roasted potatoes it's a perfect summer catch dish.

So, until I next visit this column, stay well, stay calm and take a kid fishing.

For Reservations Call:
Capt. Jay's Fishing Charters
P.O. Box 777 ~ Goodland, Florida 34140
Website: www.captainjaysfishingcharters.com
Email: captainjaybo@gmail.com