Gulf of Mexico
The weather and the fishing patterns are changing this month. As the Gulf water temperature nears the 70 degree mark the spring run of Spanish mackerel will spread northward along the coast, and towards the end of the month we should start seeing king mackerel too. The resident offshore sharks, mostly sandbars and blacknoses, will be joined by blacktips and a few bulls. The influx of sharks is great news for shark fishermen but not-so-great news for bottom fishermen who will see more of their hooked fish bitten off. Speaking of bottom fish, red grouper, lane snapper, porgys and other reef fish are steady on hard bottom in about 70 feet of water or more, and the season opened on triggerfish on March 1. Good catches of chunky spawning-sized sheepshead continue to come from nearshore artificial reefs in 30 to 50 feet of water.
Look for trout to spread out onto the flats as spring approaches and the sea grass beds begin to thicken. This has been a good year for bonnethead sharks on those same flats, and a mix of ladyfish, jacks and a few Spanish mackerel will keep rods bent. Speaking of Spanish mackerel, schools of these fast-moving fish are running the outsides of the bars on both sides of the harbor and are swirling around the artificial reefs. The winter sheepshead run is going strong, but will start to fade by month’s end as their spawn winds down. Snook catch-and-release will be good this month and snook action will get better and better as the water warms. Redfish have been steady, also catch-and-release, and fishing for them will improve along mangrove shorelines mid-harbor and more and more reds move out of the rivers and backwaters. And there will be tarpon caught this month. Not a lot of them and maybe not consistently, but over-wintering tarpon will start to get active in the river mouths, and it won’t be long until the migratory fish begin to arrive, typically when the water temp reaches the mid-70’s.