Florida Fishing Report - March 4

Florida Fishing Report - March 4
FreshwaterCentral Florida--Look for the bass to finish up bedding during the new and full moons of March on Lake Kissimmee and Lake Toho. The northeast side of Kissimmee has yielded bass to 12 pounds this week, and lots of 6-8 pound fish for anglers sight casting to the fish moving onto the beds. Look for the sand holes and then move back from the hole and wait for the bass to return to the bed, then cast creature baits on a 1 ounce tungsten weight past the hole and drag it into the bed. Be ready for the fish to pick it up and strike immediately. If the fish aren?t on the beds, they?re holding out in open water close to the spawning areas right now. Look for shell mounds and grassy points and cast lipless crankbaits in gold or blue and chrome colors, working the baits slowly through the area. The fish are schooling in these staging areas, so where you catch one, there will be more.Crappie have moved into the grass on the southern end of Lake Kissimee, with minnows taking limits of fish to 2 pounds in the mornings and late afternoons. Bluegill have also moved into the shallows, with worms, crickets and small popping bugs doing well.Lake Okeechobee?The new moon has the big female bass bedding in the shallows on the north end of the lake. Look for the fish in the marsh areas in 3 feet of water or less, with the best concentrations in areas with sandy or rocky bottom. Sight cast those fish with Eager Beavers or Spring Lizards. Live shiners fished around the outside grass lines of King?s Bar and Second Point are catching 30 fish per trip, with one fish topping 8 pounds or more. On the south end of the lake, Logger Toads and Horny Toads run across the top of the grass around Ritta Island and the Monkey Box area are catching good numbers of bass to five or six pounds.Crappie are the best thing going on the Big Lake right now, with the fish moving out into open water and starting to push into the grass. The best action is still at night on live Missouri Minnows in areas like the Kissimmee River and Nubbin Slough, but jig polers are also doing well during the daytime using chartreuse and black or pink and black jigs. Adding a minnow to the jig will produce larger fish right now.SaltwaterFlorida PanhandleInshore? Black drum have been the mainstay for anglers fishing live shrimp around the Navarre Bridge and in the sound. Work the docks with boats on lifts, as they usually have deeper water around them, and you?ll likely pick up a few redfish as well. West Bay and North Bay in Panama City have been yielding great redfish action on live shrimp and Assassin Sea Shads.Offshore?Amberjacks are the mainstay on the deepwater wrecks, but blackfin tuna should be making a solid showing in the next couple of weeks if the weather stays warm. Closures on snapper and grouper have kept the bottom fishermen back in port awaiting the first cobia of the spring run. Once the first fish is caught the word will get out and the beaches will be packed with boats running and gunning fish to 100 pounds or more. Custom cobia jigs or live eels are the favored offerings along the beaches, and don?t overlook the appeal of a large live shrimp or whole squid.West Central FloridaInshore?Redfish action has been steady from New Port Richie down to Sarasota, with fish holding along the mangrove shorelines and potholes in the flats. Lemon Bay, Little Sarasota Bay and the causeways around Tampa Bay are all good locations to target redfish in March. If it?s cold, look for the fish over dark mud bottom, but if the weather stays warm, chase them over sand. Drunk Monkey Blurp Shrimp and Gold 5 inch shads with a 1/8 ounce jighead bounced on the bottom will entice a bite from the reds. The key is to move the lure very slowly in front of fish, then barely twitch it. When the redfish pins it to the bottom, don?t set the hook. Wait another second for the fish to suck the bait into its mouth so you don?t miss the hookup. Sheepshead can be caught around all the causeways and bridges right now on shrimp, sandfleas, fiddler crabs or mussels.Offshore?Mangrove snapper and the occasional mutton are coming out of 115 to 140 feet of water on live pinfish or ballyhoo plugs. Grouper are all over the hard bottom areas from six to 15 miles off the beach, but season remains closed. If you?re looking for catch-and-release action, the grouper bite is pretty hard to beat right now. Spanish mackerel were pushing off St. Pete Beach earlier in the week, but rough conditions have kept anglers from getting to them all week.Southwest FloridaInshore?Word of tarpon showing in Chokoloskee has fishermen working the coves and river mouths looking for silver kings. Watch for free-jumping fish in the open areas and throw large topwater plugs like a MirrOlure Top Dog or live mullet. Fly fishermen should look for the laid-up fish in 4 feet of water along the shorelines of coves and bays. Snook fishing has also picked up around the waters of Marco Island, Pine Island Sound, the Sanibel Causeway Bridge and in the channel leading into Port of the Islands. Chartreuse and black or pumpkin with red glitter colored jerk baits worked around the trees and other structure are taking mostly small fish, but in good numbers right now. Topwater plugs are starting to produce some nice snook for anglers wading the oyster bars of Chokoloskee. Black and gold is the hot color right now.Offshore?The few boats making it offshore these days are finding mutton, mangrove and yellowtail snapper in 110-150 feet of water. Live shrimp and pinfish, squid, ballyhoo and grunt plugs are all good offerings. Bait is starting to show up around the markers again, so threadfins, Spanish sardines and pilchards will be available from now until the fall. We?ll see a marked improvement in the tripletail fishing over the next month as well, as fish start pushing out onto the crab trap buoys in 12-15 feet of water. Use live shrimp or small flies that imitate shrimp or small baitfish for tripletail upwards of 10 pounds.Florida KeysInshore?Warm weather over the last two weeks has greatly improved the flats fishing, allowing bonefish and permit to move up into the shallows from Islamorada to Key West. Tarpon are also starting to show in the channels of Key West up to Summerlin Key, with chunks of ladyfish, crabs, pinfish and mullet the top baits. The flats are also covered with Spanish and cero mackerel?just look for the diving birds and chum with minnows then throw jigs or flies. Up in Florida Bay the seatrout bite remains strong over the grass flats and redfish can be found on the flats to the west of Flamingo, as well as up in the small creeks. Live shrimp on a ¼ ounce jighead is deadly on the reds and will also take a few snook as well.Offshore?Sailfish are the mainstay for bluewater anglers working the outside edge of the reef in 80-130 feet of water. Live pilchards, threadfins and goggle-eyes are the top baits, and some boats are fishing six to 10 inches of wire near the hook because of cutoffs from kingfish and the occasional wahoo. Kingfish and cobia have moved in to the wrecks west of Key West, with both species showing on most days. Look for cobia to 60 pounds or more and lots of 20-20 pounds kings off the End of the Bar and on the wrecks and reefs. This is also the time when the shrimp boats are starting to show in force, with schools of blackfin tuna and bonito feeding on the cull thrown overboard. Watch for anchored shrimp boats and fish downcurrent from the boats.Southeast FloridaInshore?Tarpon fishing in Government Cut is producing fish to 130 pounds for anglers drifting the cut at night with live shrimp, crabs or pilchards. The key when using shrimp is to get bait down by using a 3/8 ounce jighead. The shrimp are running in Biscayne Bay, so the nighttime fishing around the bridges for snook and tarpon has been very consistent for anglers drifting shrimp on a 50-pound fluorocarbon leader and 3/0 circle hook back to the shadow line. The Venetian Causeway has been one of the hot spots for tarpon to 60 pounds. Snook fishing has picked up on the flats in Stuart, where live Atlantic Menhaden freelined on the deeper cuts through the flats are catching up to 20 snook per day. Snook season remains closed in Florida until Sept. 1, so all the action is catch-and-release. Spotted seatrout, pompano, ladyfish and redfish make up the rest of the action on the flats of the Indian River from Fort Pierce to Hobe Sound. Assassin Drunk Monkey jerkbaits with a 1/8 ounce jighead have been the go-to lure.Offshore?Scattered sailfish, dolphin and wahoo are available from Fort Pierce to Miami, with the better sailfish action off Dade and Broward counties in 110 to 160 feet of water on live goggle-eyes, threadfins or pilchards. The best action has been on a northerly wind when the sails get up on the surface and cruise allowing anglers to cast pitch baits to the fish. The wahoo bite has been consistent three or four days on either side of the new and full moons when the tides and currents are running stronger than normal. The new moon is March 4. Troll double-hooked swimming mullet on a wire line or planer to target the wahoo. Blackfin tuna in the 15-20 pound range can be found off Palm Beach in 150 feet of water. Look for the diving birds, and troll with small feathers in pink, silver or black and red.East Central FloridaInshore?Big redfish are starting to move back onto the flats of the Mosquito Lagoon and Banana Rivers from Melbourne up to Titusville and even in Oak Hill. Warmer weather has redfish to 40 pounds or more moving into 2-4 feet of water, with Tiger Shoals, the east side of Merritt Island and the No Motor Zone three good areas to find fish right now. Blue crabs, mullet or ladyfish chunks and DOA Bait Busters have been the most productive offerings on the big reds. Smaller redfish can be found along the shorelines, oyster bars and in the shallow holes in the flats on the outgoing tides, with the Assassin Copper Juice colored 4 inch Sea Shad on a ¼ ounce red jighead a great bait. Bluefish can be found around all the inlets from Sebastian north, with topwater plugs like a Rapala SkitterWalk fooling fish to seven pounds along with the occasional big seatrout. Most of the larger seatrout are coming out of shallow, mud bottom.Offshore?The yellowfin tuna bite at the 90 mile buoy has been hit-or-miss, but there have been some good days when anglers are catching fish to 80 pounds, along with dolphin, wahoo and blackfin tuna. The weather has been inconsistent for running out to the buoy, but the best action seems to be after the wind has been blowing and seas have been rough for at least three days. Cobia action has been steady on the wrecks on less than 80 feet of water, as well as on manta rays and around the Bethel Shoals area. Chartreuse 1 ounce Hook Up lures and Yo-Zuri Hydro Poppers have been taking cobia to 60 pounds lately. The better fish have been on the manta rays. Bottom fishing has been outstanding for red snapper and grouper, both of which must be released because the season is closed. The best action has been in 70-90 feet of water on live pinfish.Northeast FloridaInshore?Sheepshead fishing around the channel markers in the Intracoastal Waterway is red hot, according to Capt. Russell Tharin of Jacksonville. Live shrimp fished around the markers is catching sheepies to 7 pounds or more, along with whiting, croakers and the occasional redfish also being taken. Spotted seatrout fishing has been good in the deeper holes and creeks with live shrimp or dark green colored Cotee Jigs on a ¼ ounce jighead. Look for the diving seagulls or oil slicks on the surface where the trout have been feeding heavily on glass minnows. Flounder action should pick up this month, with fish in the 1-4 pound range moving into the shallows to feed. Live mud minnows bounced on the bottom around docks and bridge pilings will score a flounder dinner or two.Offshore?Offshore fishing has been limited the last week because of rough seas, but when anglers can get out the wahoo bite has been excellent in 180-400 feet of water. High speed trolling with Yo-Zuri Bonito or Braid Speedsters will fool the wahoo, which are still traveling in schools, so be sure to mark the bite and spin back around for another pass. Bottom fishing for snapper and grouper is outstanding on the reefs and wrecks in 60-90 feet of water. Butterfly jigs and grunt plugs have been the best baits.
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