Every year anglers eagerly anticipate the arrival of spring and the good fishing that comes with it. The way winter has dragged on with record colds the warmer days of spring can’t get here soon enough. Although the season doesn’t officially change for a few more weeks we should expect a big boost in fishing very soon.
With winter running late you get the feeling the fish are ready to bust loose, one week of warm weather and fishing could get red hot. All it could take is for the water temperature to rise a few marks and get over the seventy degree mark. Most years by mid February baitfish including pilchards, herring and pinfish have moved back into our inshore waters, but as of this time they are absent for the most part and if you did have a few in the well there aren’t too many gamefish that would exert the energy to chase them down.
It all has to do with the water temperature, when it hits that magic mark fishing could get crazy fast. The small bait fish will invade our waters and gamefish will be right behind them. Our fish have suffered a long cold season also and they won’t waste any time filling their bellies. We have experienced a glimpse of what’s to come after a short stretch of warm days then another fronts sets us back. There are plenty of really big trout around and every time it warms up a little they turn on as do redfish.
March is a month where you can catch the largest trout of the year as they are in pre spawn mode; fish from five to seven pounds are becoming more common each spring. Soon they will be keying in on oily baitfish like pilchards or herrings, look for them lurking around oyster bars, potholes and on the transitions of sand bars to ambush their meal. While live bait is hard to beat, most artificials that imitate the silver sided minnows also work good, ladyfish steaks soaked on bottom for redfish also end up catching some really big trout. By far the most exciting way to hook up with a big “Gator” trout is casting top water lures over the grass flats. They have an unforgettable “pop” when they blast the lure, for some anglers that’s the only way to fish for them.
You can also expect to catch plenty of schooling size trout all around Pine Island on grass flats averaging three to eight feet in depth. Bluefish, mackerel, and ladyfish will also invade these areas as well as an unexpected shark or cobia. When we get to the point where the baitfish move in it’s a good idea to keep a heavy rig ready to go as tarpon, sharks and big cobia could get into the action at any time.
Off the beaches mackerel both king and Spanish will begin their northerly migration up our coast, once again following the bait schools. Just like inshore, tarpon, sharks and cobia could show up at any time. There should be plenty of cobia hanging over offshore wrecks as well as amberjacks and barracuda on those farther offshore. March is traditionally a windy month making it hard for anglers to schedule offshore trips with consistency.
Back inshore the redfish action should get a big boost in the coming weeks. We will begin to get on higher daytime tides, couple that with warmer waters and an increase in the food supply and the redfish catches will increase in both numbers and size. Look for redfish in the same spots as mentioned earlier for the large trout and also foraging under the mangroves on the high water.
I love fishing this time of year and I will even more when the cold days are gone. I can’t wait to hit the water at dark and watch the sunrise while cast netting a well full of frisky shiners with the anticipation of what we might catch on a WARM spring day. I am so ready for spring fishing, Bring it On!