ST AUGUSTINE March Fishing Report
We’ve had some rather cold and rainy weather this winter. (At least we haven’t had snow!). It’s been a little tough to pattern the fish with the funky weather patterns, but get out there, because they are still chewin! Redfish, trout, and black drum will be the main focus inshore this month. Look for redfish in shallow flats and creeks that have a darker mud or oyster-laden bottom. On clear days, the sun will warm the water a few degrees in those areas making a great spot for the reds to hang out and warm up a bit. Bait (mullet, minnows, shrimp) will also hold in these “hot” spots and it is common knowledge that the reds will be in the same areas as the bait. Sight-fishing for reds has been a little hit-or-miss this year, again due to the weather. If it warms up quickly this month, the water will start to get murky as the algae starts to bloom. Not to worry you can still “sight” fish. One way to spot schooled up reds is to look for wakes or “muds” caused by the fish moving. I’ve been locating some big schools this way just about all winter.
The latter half of this month marks the start of my favorite time of year to fish for trout. Once the water starts to warm up a bit, the trout will be going crazy. There’s nothing like watching that big momma trout come soaring out of the water after your top-water plug. Creek mouths, rip rap, and just about anywhere you have some moving water, are going to be great places to target the specs. Remember to loosen the drag just a little when throwing top-water plugs for trout. They have somewhat delicate mouths and you don’t want to rip the plug away from the fish before they actually get it. Of course, if top-water isn’t your thing, a jig and soft plastic will do the trick for the specs as well. My go-to rig-of-choice for trout (and reds too!) is a Slayer Inc. 1/8-ounce Predator jighead with a Slayer Inc. SST paddle tail. Jig, jig, pause, then repeat.
The sheepshead bite has been strong all winter and should continue into early spring. Fiddlers and oyster crabs have been the best baits. Just about any structure with barnacles on it has been holding some “heads”, but some of the bigger ones have been coming out of deeper water around the big bridges and jetties. We’ve also been catching quite a few big ones in the creeks around the oyster bars. I think it’s safe to say that sheepshead like cold weather and we’ve had plenty of that this winter.
The black drum bite has been pretty good over the last couple of months, and should continue this month. Most of my fish have been in the 3 to 8 pound range, and were caught in the deeper parts of the creeks off the ICW. The best baits have been live/fresh dead shrimp, or a fiddler crab. An hour on either side of low tide has been producing the best bite, especially around the new and full moons.
Capt. Tommy Derringer