On the Water: March brings a jump-start to spring fishing
The first two months of 2016 kicked off with record rainfall and some pretty cold temperatures for Southwest Florida. With the arrival of March, we will see warmer days that will jump-start spring fishing. With warmer temperatures, the bait fish migrations will begin as large bait schools move into our waters from the south. With the combination of warm water and a huge influx of food, look for predator and game fish to get very hungry as the month progresses.
Trout fishing should go from good to great as the weeks pass. And not just in numbers, but also in size. We will note a big rise in big “gators” often 24 inches or larger. The fish are often schooled in similar size – if you are only catching small ones, make a move, sometimes a slight move is all that’s needed. Although live shrimp are catching plenty, the larger trout are often keying on oily baitfish.
On the calm mornings look for big fish prowling the shallows (watch those mullet schools) where a properly worked top water plug can be deadly. A swim or crank bait is a great choice in depths from 3 to 6 feet during mid-day and, of course, if you can catch some live pilchards, thread herring or pinfish, you really tip the scale in your favor to land some big trout. Look for good clean water with good clarity.
Spanish mackerel continue to get more abundant and larger as the water warms. Inshore, look for them over areas with a mixed grass bottom in 4 to 9-foot depths. Bluefish, trout, jack crevalle, big ladyfish, sharks and cobia are often feeding over the same bottom. If you have family down visiting over spring break, this type fishing can provide fast action and lots of smiles. Also, look for mackerel schooling near any of the Gulf passes, inlets and a short distance off the beaches.
Big blacktip sharks love eating mackerel, keep a heavier rod, rigged and ready if you have the desire to do battle with these impressive fighters. The first tarpon of the season should also make an appearance off the beaches.
Our first spring high tides of the year are a good time to hook into redfish under the mangrove shorelines and along oyster bars. Fish on average should be larger than the winter months, with most running in the 18 to 27-inch slot along with a few oversized. While targeting these areas for reds, it’s common to hook some of the largest trout of the season, plus snook.
Speaking of snook, the spring season is open for the next two months (March & April) on our coast. Snook are not back to the numbers prior to 2010 when they suffered a setback from a devastating freeze, but they are making a comeback and they well be hungry. Please make an effort to carefully handle all snook to be released; it’s a great habit to do this with any fish to be released, no matter what the species.
A lot of visitors are down from the north this month for spring break. If you have friends or family visiting and you have access to a boat, get them on the water. This is a great month for fishing as the water just seems to come to life. Larger fish are moving in and hungry, you just don’t know what you may hook into!
If you have a fishing report or for charter information, please contact us at 239-283-7960, on the Web at www.fishpine-island.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a safe week and good fishin’.