March Madness usually means basketball but, here in Tampa Bay, March Madness can apply to the snook fishing craze. This time of year, the water temps are just right, not too hot yet, not too cold; and the only thing we need to worry about are the March winds. You’ll have to watch the fronts but, when the wind lays down, you can drop the remote to the tv set, and jump on the boat and head to your favorite fishing spot.
The snook fishing will be productive well into April. Live pilchards, also known as “white bait,” is the bait of choice. You can also use cut threadfins or cut mullet. If artificials are your preference, then try a Zman PaddlerZ in Golden Bream, or Red Bone, rigged on a Snake Lock 1/8-ounce 5/0 worm hook. This rig is weedless and will definitely get you your share of hookups. Trout fishing is typically still very good as the water temps aren’t too high yet. Both live and artificial baits work great for specks.
I really enjoy tossing artificials for trout. MirrOlure’s 17MR and Zara Spook are my two hard baits of choice, and soft baits include the Matrix Shad 4″ Paddle Tail on an 1/8 oz or 1/4oz jig, or a Zman JerkZ on a snake lock 1/8oz 5/0 worm hook. If you’re tossing a live pilchard, put it under a small float and it will keep the bait out of the grass. If you’re in four feet of water make your leader about three feet long and get ready for a slam dunk.
Now moving on to redfish; all winter I’ve done well with the reds, and March is usually no exception as, again the water temps are usually still cool enough to keep them frisky and eager to pounce on your offering. For redfishing I like live and cut bait, fish an outgoing tide or the last few hours of the incoming, though the outgoing will give you the home court advantage.
Also, this spring, don’t over look cobia on the flats–you may spot them under sting rays. They are fun fighters, and they will bend a rod and make your drag sing, and they make a great addition to the barbecue. So, take a break from watching basketball and go wet a line, you’ll be glad you did as March is a great time to fish Tampa Bay.
Capt. John Rivers operates Rivers To Bay Fishing Charters out of Tampa Bay and Tarpon Springs. With 18 years guiding experince and over 40 years of fishing knowledge, he can assure you a professional / fun fishing adventure. Single or multi boat trips available. www.tampabayinshoreguides.com