Off the Hook: Spring Fishing

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By Cali Hlavac, To Do in Destin

Spring has officially arrived and so has Spring fishing season! While many fish bite year-round in our lucky fishing village, three of the most prominent this time of year are Triggerfish, Sheepshead and bull Redfish.

March 1st kicked off Triggerfish season, which many offshore anglers were excited for. In our area, Triggerfish are normally found nearshore and offshore, hanging around artificial reefs and natural bottoms, in depths between 50 to 300 feet. They share the same habitat as Red Snapper and Gag Grouper. So, catching a Triggerfish is usually a sign that additional species are below as well.

Triggerfish are pretty aggressive feeders; a positive if you’ve set out to catch them specifically, but a con if you were trying to reach the Red Snapper or Grouper they hang around with. Shrimp and any sort of cut bait will do the trick as they typically chase anything they perceive as being food, and a small hook is necessary due to the size of their mouth.

Next up are Sheepshead, which some fisherman refer to as convict fish for their striped pattern. They’ve also been referred to as ‘the fish with the human teeth’ as if you’ve ever opened the mouth of a Sheepshead, they look like they stole a pair of sailor’s dentures. They move nearshore during late winter/early Spring to spawn, and you can find them near structure like bridges, wrecks or rocks.

The other fish we like to chase in the Spring are the bull Redfish. Sight fishing these monsters is what most anglers prefer as you can find them schooled up nearshore on our beaches or inshore in our Bay, looking for food. Bull Reds can range from 25-40 lbs. and will put up a fight once you get them hooked.

Redfish are a beautiful fish, known for the spots on their tails. Their scales color with their surroundings, ranging from white to golden brown here on our coast. While schooled up, they’re known to eat just about anything you put in front of them. Once hooked, they will run, and run, and then run some more, in the other direction. Let them run and tire out, before starting the pull back to your boat. Too much pressure could cause your line to break. So, remember: patience is key.

It’s a heart racing, adrenaline pumping experience to feel a Bull Redfish on the end of your line, and one that is easy to get addicted to. If you’ve never caught one, Destin is the perfect place to start. A flat day on the water and the right gear will get you all hooked up and there is no better time than Spring.