Fort Myers Fishing Report: March 2015

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March is here and as they say, in like a lion, out like a lamb. The in like a lion part is proving to be particularly true with the cold and the wind we have been contending with the past few weeks. We can only hope the weather calms down and goes out like the proverbial lamb. But I’m guessing it’s still going to be windy for another month or two which is bearable as long as it warms up. Maybe we should all move to Florida where it’s warm all the time.

March is typically a month of change around the harbor. This past month, the fishing was incredibly mediocre at best and just downright bad at worst. There have been a few bright moments but not many, so hopefully we’re going to see the weather change and the fishing too.
So what kind of changes are we going to be seeing? Probably the big one for a lot of people will be the tarpon. They’re going to start showing up in the harbor toward the end of the month. These are our resident tarpon moving down out of the Peace River and you should be spotting a good number of them up there. Doesn’t mean they’re going to be hungry, but if you work the deep bends in the river and up around the deep holes by the water treatment plant and Liverpool, you just might get lucky. Catfish tails or ladyfish are going to be your best bets for bait. If you’re a night owl and want a little night time tarpon action you can give the bridges at 41, the El Jobean pier/bridge, and the Cape Coral Bridge a shot. Ladyfish, pinfish, large shrimp or a DOA Baitbuster worked along the shadow line is the way to go at these spots.

The trout bite is going to start slowing down a little which is never good news for those guys that can’t get back inside the bars to fish for the reds and snook, but it’s that time of year that Mother Nature has decreed it’s time for that to happen. The bite hasn’t been all that spectacular this year to begin with and they have been hard to find at times. The best action, meaning bigger fish, has been coming from Pine Island, the ICW, and Lemon Bay close to Stump Pass and we suspect will continue that pattern throughout the month. The bite will continue to slow down in the following months as the water gets warmer and they move off in search of cooler waters. On a brief aside and completely a personal opinion, it seems that since FWC allowed the year round harvest of trout starting February 1, 2012, that the trout fishing has not been quite as good as in the past. Not only are the recreational anglers granted year round harvest but the commercial season increased from 3 to 5 months. The take for them was doubled, as long as there are 2 licensed fishermen aboard, which means 150 fish per day per vessel. I foresee trout going back to some sort of closed season for their own protection, but then like I said, personal opinion. Only time will tell.

As for redfish and snook, the night time snook bite has and should continue to be great especially at El Jobean, which is good news since season opens back up March 1st. The biggest problem fishing for them there is getting a small enough fish to fit the slot. The hottest thing they’re going for right now is a pearl shad twitch bait by Storm. We can’t keep them in stock at the shop but we sure do try. The redfish have been off and on but should start getting better here over the next few weeks.

And for you offshore enthusiasts, the best thing we can tell you is to keep in mind that the next 2 months are typically the windiest months of the year (barring a tropical storm or hurricane) so pick your trip days wisely.

That being said, red grouper have been doing best in 60 to 80 feet of water and the more consistent reports are coming from off the Englewood and Venice areas. The mangrove snapper, lanes, and grunts, are still doing good from 3 to 15 miles on shrimp and squid. Check the crab pot buoys while you’re out there for the tripletail and cobia.

That’s about all we have to say about fishing. We would like to remind everyone of the annual Fishin Franks tent sale March 14th. It’s quite a circus and something you really don’t want to miss if you’re looking for some great deals on fishing equipment and the chance to talk to some of the big names in the fishing industry. Gary Loomis will be there, Mark Nichols of DOA will be there, Mike Rice CEO of Penn, Barry Heller of Star Rods, as well as the owners of Mirrolure, Rockport Rattler, and a host of others and of course the usual assortment of Fishin Franks characters. You really don’t want to miss it.

And finally, as we said at the beginning of this article, March is the month of change and we have some changes going on for Charlotte Harbor Secrets. Robert and I (Greg) have been doing this for nearly 4 years now and sadly (or fortunately) this will be our last article. We have enjoyed being able to share our opinions and knowledge with everyone out there and hope that you will continue to read Secrets as we pass the torch to Fishin Frank to carry on with this monthly column. It’s just time for things to change. There’s that word again. As always, stop by the shop if you have a question or a story to tell, or give us a call. Whichever works for you. Just remember, it ain’t no boutique, it’s a fishin store. Thanks for reading.

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