by Capt. Greg Stamper
Spring is in the air here in Southwest Florida and the changes it brings are welcomed by everyone. It’s great when our water temperatures begin the climb back over the 74-degree mark permanently! With that said last March was cold, but I’m confident in that Groundhog for this year’s warm up. Spring training baseball is in full swing, people are fishing and golfing everywhere, or just outside enjoy what we’ve got.
Fishing will have plenty of options for both inshore and offshore guides. Snook begin fattening up on baitfish that becomes plentiful. Most snook will now be out of their winter haunts and begining their spring as well. Redfish fishing although consistent throughout February, should continue to be good. March is usually when we start seeing bigger upper slot redfish, but after last year’s water issues I’m not sure that pattern will hold. Trout that have not shown up in my area until last week. Hopefully they will continue to populate as they become a fall back species for tough days. Pompano is now showing up in big numbers and can be fished for blindly or in the right situations sight casted.
Tarpon something South West Florida is known for starts up now. The big push of fish i.e. 80-200 pounders typically move in starting April. However, our local population, begins showing themselves as long as the water temperatures stay above 72. Tarpon will show up along bridges, in the rivers, and both near the beaches as well as out several miles. Targeting these fish can be done both day or night depending on what Mother Nature deals us. Depending on the size of the tarpon your targeting, leader size can go from 20lb for the juveniles “10-30lbers” all the way up to 80lb for the monsters. Hooks will vary depending on what your target size is, but in general I move up to a heavier hook sizes 4/0 and up when I believe the fish will be at least 50lbs. We’ll target them with crabs, threadfins, grunts, and other small baits both freelined and corked at times. Tarpon will eat plugs, big jigs, and soft plastics as well. Standard heavy spinning gear is most popular and anything that can hold 400 yards of line is recommended for the big ones.
Cobia, permit, tripletail, and a variety of reef species fishing just keeps getting better in March. Targeting all these species is doable, having set ups ready for them is important as they can show up anytime. Cobia will usually just wander up to you while approaching wrecks so having a bait ready to go when coming off plain is important. Tripletail may be spotted as you run out to somewhere, and permit can often be seen tailing in places as they feed on crustaceans.
Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper