by Capt. Brian Boxx
March in Southwest Florida is typically a transitional month, shifting from our Winter patterns to our Spring patterns, mother nature’s mood swings keep us on edge. Every time I check the weather forecast I hold my breath praying not to see an encroaching blue line pushing our way. A week or two of 80+ highs and light tropical breezes, thwarted by a wicked cold front causing the fish to tuck tail and bolt for safe harbor. February was extremely pleasant and stable for the bulk of the month, hopefully that trend will continue into March.
The backwater bite has been hot. The large breeder sheepshead have been hit or miss with the swinging water temps, but none the less that species is being brought over the rails in high numbers. The redfish bite remains the best I’ve seen in 9 years, with multiple fish being caught on almost every trip. The trout bite is fantastic in the open bays around the south end of Keewadin, you just have to weed through the multitude of ladyfish to get to them. Look for the pompano and Spanish mackerel to start showing back up in large numbers around area passes and bars.
March madness to me is all about his majesty, the Silver King. The tarpon is the hardest fighting inshore game fish, bar-none. He will push any angler to the breaking point, then circle back around to collect his salty tears as homage. As our inshore water temp average reaches 74°, our resident tarpon will slip out of their winter haunts and dormant state and emerge into feeding mode in our inner bays. Look for tarpon laid up on the surface sunning for exciting sight fishing opportunities. Now for the main event, the tarpon migration. Every spring a biological need to reproduce triggers these fish to school up in pods and move to their spawning grounds. The migration route runs right through SW Florida, making our near-shore waters a tarpon super highway. This migration brings the best opportunity for an angler to land that fish of a lifetime. The timing of this migration is a closely guarded secret to many guides and each has his own superstitions. One tip I’ll share with you is too keep an eye out for the white butterflies, and an ear to the sea. Best advice I can give you. Hire a local pro, these fish are no joke, they are strong and unpredictable and if handled improperly can cause serious injuries to themselves or the angler. They are a protected, delicate sportfish that require proper gear and technique to control. Don’t miss your chance to make a memory that will last for ever. Till next month -STAY SALTY MY FRIENDS.