By Captain David Lifka
We are finally into March and the fear of any more winter weather is beginning to fade. In recent years we have been a little spoiled with mild winters with little rain. These patterns have helped contribute to the longer and more bountiful fishing seasons that we have recently experienced; however, due to this year’s colder and wetter winter weather, we can probably expect a more traditional fishing season similar to seasons past.
If you fish freshwater, then you know that March is traditionally the month you can count on most for largemouth bass fishing in our area of the state. Give or take a couple weeks on either side of March, bass fishing is at its best. During this time, bass are in a feeding frenzy coming out of their winter doldrums and entering into pre-spawn, spawn and post spawn activities. This is usually the easiest time of year for anyone to catch the sometimes tricky largemouth with artificial and live baits.
Following a colder winter, March is the month you can expect warmer temperatures to become more consistent. In saltwater, especially at the beach, some of the best surf fishing of the year is brought on by warmer ocean temperatures as a variety of fish begin their spring migrations. Bluefish and whiting are the most prominent of species early on, followed by pompano and others as the water continues to warm. As always, shrimp, sand fleas, and cut bait should be your baits of choice in the surf.
If you ever wanted to catch the really big black drum, then once again, March is the month to count on when following a traditional fishing season. Fishing the deeper holes in the Intracoastal or the northern end of the St. Johns River, drum exceeding 30 or 40 pounds are not uncommon. Blue crabs, clams, and cut fish make the best baits.
In our local area of the river, March is the month we can usually expect the return of many saltwater fish that had left for the winter. Smaller, but tastier croaker should appear first, with reds and speckled trout following shortly behind. Following a colder winter, these and other fish may be easier to locate early on by fishing waters north of the Buckman and closer to town. Cut fish and dead shrimp for bait will usually let you know what’s biting pretty quick.
Fishing Report: Largemouth bass is easily the best bet for freshwater at this time year. Whiting bite should be strong at the beach and easily worth a try while working on the early stages for that new sun tan for 2018.
Whether you catch one, some, or none, the family time spent fishing will last a lifetime.