Where to Fish in April

Find the best spots to find your favorite species in April.
striped bass
New York’s striped bass. Joe Albanese

If you could only target one gamefish species this month, what would it be? Knowing a lot of fisheries are cranking up in April, we talked to five top skippers from New York to California. Here’s what these experts will be out chasing in April.

Quicklook: Best Places to Fish in April

  • Best for the West Coast: Southern California Yellowtail
  • Best for the Northern Gulf Coast: Speckled Seatrout
  • Best for the South Atlantic: Florida Blackfin Tuna
  • Best for the Mid Atlantic: Virginia Drum
  • Best for the Northeast: Stripers

West Coast Southern California Yellowtail Fishing

California yellowtail
California Yellowtail Diane Rome Peebles

Like lots of SoCal anglers, Capt. Ben Florentino (of Seal Beach) loves California yellowtail. Florentino admires their dogged pulling power and how aggressively they attack artificials. They normally get fired up in April.

“Yellowtail start moving to our islands as the water warms, following bait schools moving up from the south,” says Florentino. “Look for big schools of fish feeding at the surface.”


Florentino’s go-to spots include San Clemente Island, about 65 miles west and slightly north of San Diego, or the Coronado Islands, about 20 miles south of San Diego, in Mexican waters. His preferred means of tangling with spring yellowtails are surface iron jigs. Typically these are casting lures of aluminum weighing three ounces and measuring seven to eight inches. Preferred iron color: mint.

Northern Gulf of Mexico Speckled Seatrout Fishing

Illustration of a spotted sea trout.
Speckled Seatrout Diane Rome Peebles

Now that the Gulf is really warming up, Capt. Clif Jones (of Orange Beach) is eager to focus on an inshore favorite: seatrout, including some in the jumbo size range. Trout, he points out, are great eating and love to smash topwaters.

In April, they’re prowling the shallows. “The grass flats this month should be sparking with bait and life in general,” says Jones. Tides are always a consideration, but Jones says in general afternoons can be a great time. He fishes grass flats where a noticeable tidal flow sweeps over them, particularly closer to the clear waters of a pass (avoiding more tannic waters farther into bays). 


“If not one grass flat, then the next one; I keep moving until I find the seatrout,” he says. Most of his trout come on either flukes or walking topwaters. Jones also does well on Rapala’s subsurface X-Rap jerkbaits in white or chartreuse.

South Atlantic Florida Blackfin Tuna Fishing

Blackfin Tuna
Blackfin Tuna Diane Rome Peebles

For great action and superb sushi in April, Miami’s Capt. Jimbo Thomas heads offshore with a baitwell loaded with white bait — threadfin herring, pilchard and, sardines. He looks for a springtime profusion of the coastal tuna that will run 20 to 30 pounds. Thomas fishes the live baits under a kite in depths of 90 to 200 feet of water.

“If there’s not enough wind to keep up the kite, we’ll drift or slow-troll the baits,” he says. “We get blackfin to bite throughout the day, but they bite best in the late afternoon or on overcast days.” Thomas says.


He rigs the baits on a 5/0 circle hooks with 30-pound fluoro leader. “If we catch enough pilchards to use as live chum, we can often get the blackfin up and busting on the surface right behind the boat.” Just remember to bring the soy sauce, Thomas advises.

Mid Atlantic Virginia Drum Fishing

red drum
Red Drum Diane Peebles illustration

Ken Neill rattles off all the game fish species snapping in the spring here — tuna (yellowfin, bluefin, blackfin), flounder, tautog, trout and more. “That’s all fun, but what really gets me excited in April,” says the well-known enthusiast based in Yorktown, who also serves on many fisheries-management groups and boards, “is the invasion of large drum in shallow water.”

Actually, he says, the surf from North Carolina to Maryland offers great spring surf action for drum, but Neill will be in his boat outside the breakers or on the shoals at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Best of all is sight-casting most any jig to schools throughout the lower bay. “A 50-plus-inch red crashing a surface plug in less than two feet of water will get your blood flowing.” Neill says.


Northeast Striped Bass Fishing

Illustration of a striped bass.
Striped Bass Diane Rome Peebles

Get ready for stripers since April kicks off the season in a big way. “And they don’t just trickle in,” says Capt. John McMurray, of New York. “When they show, it’s pretty much loads of them. Then, it’s freaking game on!”

For McMurray, the game is on top, with his favorite surface lures the nine-inch Doc (“basically a Zara Spook on ‘roids”) or a Hogy Dog Walker XL. McMurray looks for schools of bunker (menhaden), then uses a walk-the-dog retrieve, working the edges of the bunker school. An effective alternative to topwater is to fish an XL flutter spoon beneath the bunker schools. McMurray’s preferred spots in April? Raritan Bay, with Jamaica Bay a close second. The fish run a bit bigger in Raritan, when 30 to 45 inches are the norm.