March has many different weather patterns and water temps that can change quickly, depending on fronts. This is one of the months that radar can be worth its weight in gold. It makes no difference whether you run to the stream, or stay close to the hill, the common denominator is to be comfortable while fishing. Some of the memorable trips of my life have not been of slick flat calm days (far from the truth) a lot of those days were just shy of rough as hell. With wind blowing the spray sideways, rocking sideways and up and down, the result has to be the same—stay dry and warm.
This is now the month of the blue fin tuna (BFT) here in NC. Sure some of the BFT show up in January , but the real bite is in March. With our weather patterns we have become accustom to dressing the part. Regardless of what a ground hog in Pennsylvania says, there could be anything from 75 degree days to snow, cold rain, sunny and/or a combination of all the above during the month of March offshore. Here in the mid-Atlantic, we can see frost at daylight and 60 degrees by lunch and warmer temps further south. The best preparation is to wear the clothing and footwear that matches the climate. Typically, I overdress with the option of removing clothing layers that make me comfortable. I always wear an outer shell of rainproof (not rain resistant) clothing that keeps both wind and water away from my inner layer(s). This outer shell consists of both a jacket and bibs. Prepare for the worst-case scenario with the option of adding layer(s) back on in the afternoon. Depending on how far south you live may determine the layer(s) that you need. Here in NC, we have need for an outer shell that is completely weather proof like Grundens (www.grundens.com) or Cape Fear Sportswear (www.capefearsportswear.com), for the cold (rough) rides to the fishing grounds in center boats, to something lighter in the warmer climates with shorter runs. Once the sun comes out and the daytime temps warm, it is nice remove the outer shell and be down to long pants. After that it is nice to zip off the lower half of pants and instantly be wearing shorts. Over the years I have had many different brands of these “zip off pants”, but the zipper and durability of the Columbia (www.columbia.com) brand has served me well.
Clothing is definitely important, but I would place footwear on an equally important level. If my feet get wet and/or cold, I am no longer enjoying the day like I did with warm/dry feet. I have a long history with the Merrell (Tundra) (merrell.com) boots for keeping warm/dry feet without scuffing the deck. The rubber used in the soles of these boots bite a wet deck like sand paper, and keeps my feet warm and dry, period. These boots have a nice soft upper that can be worn with long pants under slickers or with shorts for the ultimate comfort and foot protection. In years gone by, I have worn open toe footwear, but that ship has sailed. The kind of offshore fishing (catching) I expect, requires me to wear a shoe that will protect my feet/toes from deck obstacles and/or toothy critters. Wear what is best for your fishing style or quarry, but keep foot safety at the top of your list. If temps allow, several brands have water shoes like Keen (keenfootwear.com), Sperry (sperrytopsider.com) and Merrell that will let water drain away while keeping your toes safe from most hazards.
I have written a lot of words to say this—March can have wild weather swings, so be prepared for the worst-case scenario for clothing and footwear and be pleasantly surprised with good weather.
All the best fishing
Capt. Tim Barefoot