Edgewater Backcountry fishing comes alive with the arrival of spring. Rising water temperatures during March signals the northward migration of all sorts of both inshore and offshore fish along the Atlantic coast. Bait fish such as mullet, pilchards, glass minnows, game fish being jack crevalle, ladyfish, bluefish, black drum, tarpon, spanish mackerel, and pompano are among the inshore species that winters in the warmer waters of south Florida. Schools of jacks, blues, and ladies come through the ICW during early spring making for fast action with these hard fighting, catch and release game fish. Early morning can see surface striking activity along the intracoastal or old channel in Edgewater, fish attacking spring run shrimp or glass minnows, cast a shrimp, baitfish, artificial imitation, or fly in the busting fish for a fast hook up, mackerel or trout can also be caught in this surface activity. Look for diving birds or surface strikes, not always visible on top, they can be stacked up down deep on channel edges, shoreline drop-offs, points and creek mouths with good current flow.
The shrimp run should be in full swing this month, and every fish big and small swimming in our inshore waters eats them, so you can’t go wrong using them for bait. Select size hooked through the trimmed tail for a long cast to sight fished reds and trout in skinny water, regular size shrimp free lined or with a small splitshot on the drop offs and in holes for mixed bag action, throw them at surface feeding fish in the channel, on the bottom in black drum spots, and at the Ponce Inlet jetties, small live or peeled frozen for sheepshead on dock and bridge pilings, great for surf fishing with peeled shrimp.
Night time dock light fishing will improve this month with rising water temps and shrimp on the move riding the outgoing tide. Lighted docks on both sides of Ponce Inlet, into the ICW at New Smyrna, around the bridges, south into Edgewater and Oak Hill can be very fishy, a flowing tide is a must, with outgoing always a good choice. Closer to the inlet may hold more bluefish and jacks, as you go south seatrout the main target species, go to bait a simple free lined live shrimp or try small size artificials. Fly fishing can be great at the dock lights with a shrimp imitation.
Another northbound migrating fish to target in March (and April) are the adult giant black drum which will pass through our area along the bottom of the ICW channel. Fish at night with half a blue crab or a jumbo shrimp on the bottom of the channel in Oak Hill, Edgewater, or around the bridges in New Smyrna.
On calm quiet nights the “drumming” sounds of these big fish on the bottom can be heard coming up out of the water. Use heavy enough tackle to subdue these large fish which are 30 to 50 lbs and larger in a reasonable length of time, as to release them unharmed to go off and make lots more baby drum for our future. The Florida record was a spring migrating fish of 96 lbs caught in April 2001 at Fernandina Beach. World record black drum is 113 lbs caught in Delaware back in 1975.