By Captain David Lifka

Good news: the best fishing of the year is happening right now. Better news: it only keeps improving.

No matter what your fishing priorities might be, the month of March is when all aspects of area fishing begin to kick into high gear. Offshore, nearshore, inshore, surf, lakes, rivers, and ponds are all returning to life for the start of another fishing season.

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Preparing properly for another fishing season is a must. Now is the time to inventory your tackle and check your rods and reels for any repair or maintenance needed. If you own a boat, checking batteries, fuel filters, water pumps, lighting, safety equipment, and trailer bearings now, can possibly save on a lot of aggravation later. 

If you or the kids don’t fish, or haven’t fished before, there is no better time than now to give it a try. The weather is right — not too hot, not too cold, plus the fish are biting.

The easiest way to get started is by fishing for panfish that can be easily caught at any nearby freshwater pond, creek, or dock. Inexpensive, light equipment with just a hook and a float is all that is needed to give it a try. Fresh white bread, or even better, live worms for bait should have you catching bream and maybe even a catfish or two in no time. Mandarin Park Dock at the south end of Mandarin Road or Trout Creek Fish Camp just south of Orangedale on State Road 13 provide great, easy, fishing access for the family and kids.

Finding beach access from Fernandina Beach to Crescent Beach is the only platform needed to get you started with some of the area’s fantastic surf fishing. Surf fishing can be at its finest this time of year for anyone regardless of their fishing experience or expertise. Any rod and reel that cast far enough into the ocean to reach or get just behind the breakers will work. Surf rigs will vary, but any simple fish finder rig or store-bought surf rig should be all you need for starters. Dead shrimp or sand fleas for bait can be purchased at nearly any bait store in the area you will be fishing.

Numerous tutorials exist online to help teach, inform, and answer whatever “how to” fishing questions you might have. Fishing with an experienced friend or just watching others that are catching fish can be invaluable to learning some of the tricks that may be needed where you are fishing. Bait stores and tackle stores are usually a wealth of information for what’s working in their immediate area. 

Yes, March is the time of year that area fishing kicks into gear and now is the time to take advantage. Regardless of your fishing skills, getting outside, being on or around the water, wetting a line, and possibly even stretching a line is something that can be enjoyed individually, or with the whole family. Now let’s go fishing!

Fishing report: It’s all about the surf this time of year. Whiting and more whiting, followed by pompano and more pompano. 

Whether you catch one, some, or none, the family time spent fishing will last a lifetime.

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