March Madness

By: Capt. Bart Marx

March in Southwest Florida fishing is on the rise along with the water temperatures. Inshore there should be plenty of redfish around to target and March and April will be the times you will still be able to use live shrimp. This is also the time of year that the shrimp head out into the Gulf of Mexico and there will be some white bait starting to move back into the inshore areas where we normally see them. During the spring months, I like to use a 1/4-inch mesh cast net because the baits are still very small and will make a Christmas tree out of your 3/8 mesh net. So back to the red fish. They should be found in some the sand holes that are in the grass flats and they can also be found trolling along the mangrove edges throwing artificial bait like gold spoons, or any soft plastics will produce some nice fish. Sometimes I’ll have live shrimp or white bait, slow down and use a float and fish some of the mouths of creeks or points with moving water. On the grass flats there should be plenty of speckled trout to target and the reds will lay on the edges of the sand holes and ambush unsuspecting passing baits like shrimp under a cork or popping bobber. I like to cast and throw suspending lures like the Mirrodine or Catch 2000 or even top water plugs. Easing out into the Gulf, and close to shore out to 50 feet, you can find plenty of ledges that will hold mangrove snapper, grunts, porgies, even lane snapper and there may be some flounder around too. I have learned to bring several different types of frozen baits to get the bite started and find what they want most. After a while the bite will start to slow down and change frozen types or if you have tried all, then it is time to change if you brought some live white bait or live shrimp this is the time to use them. Some anglers start with live bait and then all you have is frozen that is like feeding someone steak and then trying to feed them hamburger. If you run out to around 100 feet, you may find some nice red grouper and yellow tail snapper on the wrecks. We should be having some nice weather now to get out there and get some fresh fish for the freezer. If you would like to go along with Capt. Bart Marx to learn some of these techniques give him a call at 941-979-6517 or e-mail at or I also will come with you on your boat for a training session and show you where to take your boat and how to use the gear that you may have.