Offshore/Bottom Forecast March 2015

March Warms Up The Fishing Year

Don’t ever write winter off just because we make it to March. I can remember some pretty chilly temps and snows during the first couple weeks of march, but later in the month, we should certainly see the pretty days that make us all start feeling frisky…fish too. The big rains of last month have sent giant “gushes” of stained/cold water into the ocean that “call” the shad and rock (striped bass) back into our rivers. I know this is an offshore bottom fishing forecast of the magazine, but I had to mention the true story of the month, at least in my life. I truly love to catch all the grouper and snapper, but shad and rock are a large part of my heart.

The length of daylight hours and rising water/air temps will certainly put EVERYTHING offshore into overdrive. Not only the palegics, but the grouper/snapper complex will feel the spring evolution happening also. The grouper are still “off limits” this month, but don’t let that stop you from getting in the ocean for some world class entertainment and dinners. You truly have “options” for the month with sea bass and flounder. Flounder are not just an inshore option, they have been found on ledges and wrecks 30 miles off the beach, but in order to catch flounder in numbers, you have to be fishing for flounder. One of the biggest obstacles for flounder fishing offshore are those endangered sea bass. You can catch sea bass on a stick (if you put enough weight on it to get it to the bottom). Any kind of chunk of cut meat, or live bait will certainly get sea bass bites, but flounder are a little more picky. They are more likely to take live baits, and nice “strips” of cut bait rather than “chunks”. Live pinfish are a great flounder bait. Pinfish are readily available with (baited) traps and/or chummed up and cast netted. Anywhere you have a fish cleaning station is a great place to start looking for pinfish. you can quickly determine if there are any pinfish there, if the water is fairly clear. Start tossing a few small pieces of bait in the water and watching them sink… if you see the pieces going sideways a couple feet deep, then you know there are pinfish there. Chum them up pretty good and then throw the cast net on the group. Another method in a little deeper water is using the sabiki. it may take a few hours, but they keep for many days or longer if you keep them fed regularly in an (otter proof) “bait pen”.

Remember this… March can be a very windy month, so keep an eye on the weather. Just because the grouper are off limits, get out there and bang ’em up. You would have a hard time finding any better fish to eat than winter sea bass and flounder.

As always, dress them properly and take the kids with you offshore for some priceless entertainment

All the best fishing,
Capt. Tim Barefoot