March can be a magical time of year to be on the water here in the South. The arrival of longer days and warmer temperatures bring on the much-needed thaw from the doldrums of winter. Folks are ready to gear up and get on the trout streams to take advantage of the early spring hatches that show us some fantastic fishing.
If you are one of the more dedicated winter anglers, you will probably start seeing an influx of cars and boat trailers at the parking areas of your favorite trout water. This shouldn’t discourage you too much, as there is still plenty of water and fish to go around, especially if you seek out some of the lower elevation waters.
March is also the kickoff for some of the best warm water fly fishing of the year! Late February and early March are generally when reservoirs begin to fill back up, and water conditions begin to stabilize, producing nice water clarity and flows in our rivers that either feed into or come out of reservoirs. The coupling of warmer temperatures and good water flows really turn on the bite in warm water fisheries like the Etowah River. Most warm water species such as spotted bass, white bass and stripers are transitioning out of a winter cycle into a pre-spawn mode when their primary goal is to eat as much as possible.
On the Etowah, we begin to see the white bass and hybrids really show up in numbers on top of the resident spotted bass. Fishing for these species this time of year can also afford us some very high catch rates. Fish can be found congregated in areas like creek mouths, submerged timber and in current breaks below shoals. Finding a school of big hungry white bass will give your six- or seven-weight a serious workout! Don’t be surprised either if you happen to get sucker punched by an early arrival hybrid or stripe lingering in the mix. You might want to have your drag knob set a little tighter for insurance.
Spotted bass shouldn’t be left out of the conversation; March can be a great time to catch a true trophy spot as well. The variety of species and aggressiveness of the fish are something not to be missed.
Flies and gear for this type of fishing are pretty straightforward. I prefer a six- to a seven-weight rod with either a floating or intermediate tip line paired with an 8- to 12-pound fluorocarbon leader. A plethora of streamers will get an eat, but I favor any Clouser-style fly such as a Cowen’s Coyote or one of my White Trash Baitfish.
If you haven’t tried this type of fishing before, feel free to call us at the shop and book a day out on the water or get yourself geared up for some Bassamania!
Garner Reid is the head guide at Cohutta Fishing Company in Cartersville, Georgia. Call (770)-606-1100 or see the website at www.cohuttafishingco.com.