As March comes upon us, the first signs of spring begin to show. The gulf water temperature is slowly rising, and the transition from winter to spring is taking place. More and more bait fish are showing each day and the arrival of the pelagics should be here for the later part of the month. The most popular of the pelagic species for Citrus County will be the Spanish Mackerel. The Spanish macks are a welcomed sight, not only for their table fare, but their drag screaming runs that make them so enjoyable. They can be seen from great distances hoarding bait schools; keep an eye out for the birds to lead you to the fish.

The redfish are becoming more active and dropping out of the deeper back county creeks and rivers. Cover as much water as possible to locate them. They could be anywhere from the outer keys, to the edge of the backcountry. The gold spoon is a perfect prospecting lure for our area; its relatively weedless, it casts a mile, and the red fish love it. Add a split ring and a small barrel swivel to the eye of the spoon to eliminate line twist. The bait stealers are not here in big numbers yet; if a school of redfish is located, anchor up and a live shrimp is the go-to bait.

Here are a few different methods on how to target a big mack. Anchoring over any hard bottom area, and hanging a chum bag over the boat will draw them right into casting range. Give the chum plenty of time to cause a “slick” and free line a live shrimp on a #2 long shank hook with 30 lb. fluorocarbon leader to get a hook up. The long shank hook acts as a small piece of wire to cut down of the “cut offs” which mackerel are notorious for. Casting artificials such as small silver spoons, gotcha plugs and D.O.A. glow cal shad tail jigs retrieved quickly, will also keep the rod bent.

The sheepshead bite is still going strong and there’s no better time than the present to go give it a try. Keep in mind, March is traditionally windy, so before planning an offshore trip, check the marine forecast to ensure a safe and comfortable ride offshore. Rock piles, artificial reefs and especially under cut ledges will be hotspots throughout the month. A live shrimp on a knocker rig is still a best bet, and try targeting the 20 to 30 foot depth range for some hefty sheepies.

March is also big trout time, and if you want to catch that gator around the 24-inch mark and larger, you will now have an opportunity. Rock and shell bars will be holding the big trout and your favorite redfish points are a good choice as well. My go-to bait is a glow 5.5 inch DOA jerk bait, but for the hard bait fans; a MirrO’lure MirrrO’dine is just as productive. Remember, release the big ones to keep those good genes going strong….