Close to home.
Snook will be gathering near the beaches. Redfish will stalk the shallow bays, and a host of species including pompano, Spanish mackerel and snapper will be on their marks. The Big Marco River is one such area that can hold fish for any piscatorial pursuit and not eat up a ton of gas. Deciphering the whims of the river and its varied environments can be a bit daunting.
The Big Marco River is what makes Marco Island an island. Throughout its length lies every imaginable inshore fishing opportunity during April. It terminates on the north end at Big Marco pass and the south at Coon Key Pass. The river will pass Addison Bay as well as many smaller unnamed productive waters. Generally speaking there is always good water flow as spring time tides are generally equal for the morning and afternoon.
Starting at the northern end in Big Marco Pass, the pass is a wide expanse that contains many shallow bars and points that attract a multitude of baitfish. Most mornings will see a flurry of activity as birds dive on baitfish being harassed to the top by predators. A long time favorite area for charter boats, the pass can get a bit crowded after mid morning. The shallower sandy stretches are excellent places to jig for pompano. Typically thought of as a winter time staple, April can see some of the biggest pompano of the year skipping along the sand bars and hard bottom. Deeper inside the pass is a typical urban fish-scape consisting of docks and seawalls. These areas hold large numbers of snook that will readily pounce on free lined live baits. Schools of big breeder snook can test the angling ability of the most seasoned. The deeper north side of the pass can be excellent during lower tide phases especially during a tide change. Tarpon will also frequent the deep (as much as 25 feet) north side as well. Live or fresh dead bait soaked on the bottom will usually put a tarpon in the air. Don't be surprised if a rather large grouperand snapper picks up your live bait either, as the pilings and seawalls are perfect habitat for these two.
As the river eases its way past Marco proper on the way to Goodland, it narrows significantly. While most anglers buzz through this section on their way south, the deep shorelines of the river can be ridiculously productive. Snook love to lay in the numerous blowdowns along both sides of the river looking to ambush any prey that goes by. For artificial lures, this area is enticing with the numerous targets presented to skilled casters. A daylight troll down the shore armed with topwater lures can yield quality numbers and size of snook.
Redfish will also use the river as a highway from the Gulf to the backcountry. Any shallow cove or bay is worth a few casts. During higher tides, reds can be found in the areas that are too shallow otherwise and will respond to almost any offering. Tarpon also use the river as a travel route and the deeper S-turn near Goodland will always have fish rolling as they pass through. Daylight is best as the bite will usually wane as the traffic picks up.
The southern end of the Big Marco River is Coon Key Pass. This relatively wide pass leads to the south side of Cape Romano and the shallow flats in front of Coon Key proper can be loaded with trout in April. Depending on tide, look for the shallow bars to be where most of the action takes place. Diving birds will give away the location of feeding fish and make the big expanse manageable. Tarpon also frequent the shallow flats and can often be seen free jumping during early morning or just before dark.
HUNTING If you didn't bag a gobbler during the first week of the season, your task may be much more difficult. Zone A turkeys are notorious for pulling a disappearing act as hunting pressure increases. The Addition Unit will still be your best option but plan on going farther and farther to reach unmolested birds. Rely more on scouting and your setup than calling and be where the birds want to be.
* BEST BET 10,000 ISLANDS
Tarpon fishing can peak in April assuming March wasn't too cold. Look for those slick calm mornings to get tarpon in the mood to show themselves by rolling, crashing bait or free jumping. The outside beaches will hold the most fish as they migrate north. Perennial hotspots like Pavilion Key, the Mudhole and Cape Romano will be the most productive. Live bait will get the most strikes, but it seems that more and more sharks have found these areas to their liking over the years so be prepared to re-bait and rerig often. If the tides are slower or about to change, look for tarpon "floating" on the surface, often with their fins sticking out. Approach with stealth. Backcountry fly anglers will also do well with tarpon this month south of Marco in the deeper deadend coves and bays. Look for the tarpon around the higher tides to lay quite dose to the mangroves.