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It’s March Madness on the Grass Flats!

With spring just right around the corner, March is shaping up to be an excellent time to fish.

Baitfish will be arriving on the grass flats by mid-month. Along with this influx of baitfish, snook, redfish and sea trout will be moving out of the back country and their deep winter haunts to feed until winter rolls around again.
Usually, March ushers in the harvest of snook, but due the moratorium on snook, redfish and sea trout, there’s little you can take home to eat. However, the catch and release fishing will the outstanding.

Let’s say, you couldn’t care less about releasing fish, and you gotta eat!
Sheepshead are still spawning and are relatively easy to catch if you’re fishing for them in the all the right places. I’m finding sheepshead in deep sandy holes on the grass flats, around oyster beds, bridge pilings, and artificial reefs. Baits of choice for these bandits, are shrimp, fiddler crabs, and believe it or not, small pieces of barnacle.

Mangrove snappers have been biting well all winter long and will just become more active as the water warms. When fishing for sheepshead around bridge pilings and artificial reefs, we start catching snapper also. Snapper love to feed on shrimp, crabs and scaled sardines.

When fishing for both species, I use a 1/0 hook and as little weight as necessary to suspend the bait into the strike zone. I always start a chum slick to get the action going. I like to anchor up tide and let particles of ground up baitfish draw whatever quarry I’m after, right to the boat.

Lastly, on table fare: By mid to late March, I’ll be running a short distance offshore to catch king mackerel. Their spring migration usually kicks off around St. Patrick’s Day and last four to six weeks, depending how along the water temperature stays in their comfort range. Along with the king mackerel, there will be schools of Spanish mackerel mix in.

Some people want to keep fish, and I get it! Fortunately, most of my clients just enjoy catching fish. Otherwise with all the closures, I’d be living in a van, down by the river.

My clients are catching plenty of snook right now. Alongside the snook, some of the largest trout most people have ever caught in their life are being released. I haven’t been targeting redfish much lately, but I will be this month as large schools begin to invade the grass flats.

The fly fishing is extremely good right now for snook and sea trout. If you’re not a purist and are willing to cast a fly once I have the fish chummed up with live bait, you won’t be disappointed. It’s as easy as matching the hatch. A cave man can do it!

Stay fishy my friends.

Pictured: Longtime client Brennan Porter and his now fiancee, Rachel. Brennan proposed later that day!

The Catching is Hot Right Now!

Tampa Bay Fishing Charters

Tampa Bay Redfish Charters

You may think the fishing is only good either early or late in the day during the summer. Not so! Tidal flow has everything to do with how good or bad the fishing will be on any given day, regardless of how hot it is outside. If a good tide coincides with a sunrise or sunset in the summer, all the better, because fish do feed more aggressively when the sun is at lower angles to the horizon.

When looking for a good summertime fish spot I always consider pinch points, deep water grass flats and passes where the tidal flow is at its fastest. Moving water tends to have a cooling effect, which attracts more fish to that area.

Should I find myself on the water during the mid-day when the wind dies down and the water is completely flat. I might run and gun to beat the heat!
This may be as simple as traveling a couple of miles to chase an incoming or outgoing tide at a different location. Or, if the tide is slack in your area and your waiting for it to turn, I sometimes just check out nearby channel markers, buoys or range markers for cobia or triple tail. The constant moving cools everyone off and increase our chances in locating some fish.

Mangrove snapper has been outstanding this month. Many rock piles, bridges and artificial reefs are loaded right now. With a 10-inch minimum and a five fish per person limit, it’s been easy to limit out, even when I have four to five anglers on board.

The catch and lease snook fishing is good also. Snook are still spawning and most of the bridges and mangrove points are stacked with snook.
If you like to catch and blacken redfish for dinner, the best tide to locate a school is around a high tide. This time of year, redfish like to have a lot of water over their backs as they move across the flats. I usually don’t even start looking for redfish until a 2.0 incoming tide or higher. Most days, the redfish we catch are too large to keep, but a few manage to make the 18/27-inch slot.

Many times, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I would like. So, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like me on Facebook to receive Afishionado updates. For charter reservations call Wade at 813-286-3474.