Local anglers often ask "When does the fishing turn on in March"? There are no firm answers. Although fishing in March can be excellent, a cold front can blow in and kill fishing for 2 - 3 days.  Additionally, March is known as a windy month and, in years past, there have been weeks that were rendered almost un-fishable due to these winds. Seatrout are usually a primary target for inshore anglers this month in St Josephs Sound, however going out and catching 6 - 8 trout would be considered a decent day this year.  Last year, catching upwards of two dozen trout was often effortless.  This being the case, some Tampa Fishing Captains have already started to focus on the improving redfish and snook fishing.

If snook are the target, it's best to start the day by getting hundreds of pilchards in the live well as chumming out some freebies is generally the best way to motivate these fish to eat. The best locations for snook this time of year are warm bays, bayous and local spoil islands. Most of the fish encountered are on the smaller side...18 to 26 inches...however legal fish, and larger, are around.  Snook will eat others baits and often times, cuts baits or split shotted whitebait or pinfish tossed into an area for redfish will produce a quality snook.  Every degree north of 70 should improve activity levels in these fish. On the bright side, there seem to be more very small snook than normal this year, hopefully an indication that the recent closures have laid the groundwork for better snook populations in the future.

March is almost always the month where redfishing hits its stride and it appears that this year will be no exception. Over the last week, redfishing has been strong.  Over-slot fish have shown up and even some of the upper slot fish seem exceptionally fat. Double digit redfish days are, once again, a realistic expectation. Look for these fish on the flats associated with mullet schools and along mangrove shorelines on the higher phases of the tide. As with most of our local species, having an abundance of whitebait can only increase the odds of getting these fish to bite.  Chumming productive shorelines can turn these fish on and provide fast action. On open flats, or when fishing any locations where a bait may have to sit for a bit of time, pinfish and cut baits are more productive as these baits are difficult for pinfish to remove from a hook.

The warming waters of April will only improve the redfish and snook bites. Also, rumor has it that kingfish and mackerel have shown up over the Clearwater hard bottom.  Winds over the last week have kept most inshore and nearshore anglers fishing on the inside but there will be opportunities over the next few weeks to get out and catch these fish.  Good luck and good fishing.

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