Here is what’s on tap for april: in the northeast, fishermen can get into shape with early season shots at trophy striped bass. Anglers who cast around Cape Canaveral, in Florida, may find themselves wrestling with gators (a.k.a. huge seatrout). And way up in Alaska, chances at hauling in barndoor halibut abound. April gives anglers plenty of chances to fool big fish, so pick a spot and get there soon. Be sure to check regulations before heading out.
BEST Hatteras, North Carolina The yellowfin tuna action off Hatteras offers anglers shots at fish ranging from schoolies to 100-pounders. Natural cedar plugs aren’t flashy, but they are tuna killers in the trolling spread, especially when run on flat lines.
RUNNER-UP Morehead City, North Carolina Boats heading out of Morehead City target schools of hungry yellowfin.
BEST Fort Myers, Florida Amberjack devour live bluefish and hardtail baits off Florida’s Gulf Coast during the spring. When fighting one of these guys, use the boat to maneuver away from structure after a hookup-it’s the best way to prevent a cutoff.
RUNNER-UP Orange Beach, Alabama Feisty AJs deliver plenty of strikes to anglers off the wrecks and oil rigs of the Gulf.
BEST Lewes, Delaware Finally, the wait is over. The season for trophy striped bass kicks off along the Delaware coast as migratory fish move into the area. Troll an umbrella rig just off the beach or chunk fresh bunker for a sure way to land a spring striper.
RUNNER-UP Cape May, New Jersey Both Delaware Bay and the famed Cape May Rips hold plenty of early season stripers.
BEST Manasquan, New Jersey Party boats departing from Manasquan Inlet put anglers into loads of black seabass on the deepwater wrecks. Fish a few small teasers ahead of metal jigs to fool multiple fish on one drop.
RUNNER-UP Ocean City, Maryland As waters warm, black seabass begin to feed inshore around Ocean City.
BEST Beaufort, North Carolina Bonito begin to arrive in the inshore waters of North Carolina. Surf anglers can catch these speedsters off the ends of jetties, while boat fishermen will score big with small metal lures over nearshore reefs.
RUNNER-UP Florida Keys Bonito feeding on offshore wrecks in the Keys are a great challenge to light-tackle anglers.
BEST Cape Canaveral, Florida The action for gators around the Space Coast on Florida’s eastern shore explodes in the spring. Topwater lures like Super Spooks fished over shallow grassbeds produce big numbers in the Indian and Banana Rivers.
RUNNER-UP Tampa Bay, Florida Large speckled seatrout swarm the shallow waters throughout Tampa Bay this month.
BEST Homer, Alaska When you set the hook on a halibut off Alaska, you never know if it’s going to be a 20-pounder or one to break the 400-pound mark. Bring a sturdy rod harness, because these barndoors are fought on standup gear.
RUNNER-UP Washington Halibut hold near current rips or over rockpiles and artificial reefs around northern Washington.
BEST British Virgin Islands Jet to the British Virgin Islands and get into it with the white marlin that linger in deep water. This big-game fishery peaks in April, and hard-striking whites are quick to slam trolled ballyhoo or strip baits.
RUNNER-UP Antigua This is your last chance to cash in on the run of white marlin in the waters around this Caribbean island.
BEST Bahamas Bullet-fast bonefish move onto the flats in April. Set the hook with a strip strike instead of lifting the rod to improve your odds. Bag a bonefish, then go after the other two species for a flats grand slam. Check out page 73 to see how to finish the job.
RUNNER-UP Ascension Bay, Mexico The shallow waters of this Mexican hot spot play host to droves of feeding bonefish.
BEST Guatemala Bull and school dolphin go on a feeding frenzy in the blue waters of Guatemala. Keep a sharp eye out for floating debris. Once you find it, it’s simply a matter of time before you and the crew are feasting on fresh dorado.
RUNNER-UP Bahamas Aggressive dolphin are quick to chase a fly or trolled bait off the Bahamas in the spring.
BEST Bermuda Speedy wahoo cruise the ledges around Bermuda. Troll at high speeds with feathers, ballyhoo and skirts to deceive plenty of these toothy predators. Be prepared for a long fight, as these fish can reach the 100-pound range.
RUNNER-UP Vanuatu This tiny island in the South Pacific puts anglers into more hungry ‘hoos than they can handle.