St. Augustine Inshore Fishing Report
This has been a wild winter as far as the weather is concerned. It seems like every few days we’ve had a front coming through bringing high winds and and rain. It’s been making it tough to get out on the water on a regular basis. When the weather has been nice the fishing has been great. We’ve had peroids when the water has been super clear allowing for some great sight-fishing opportunities. But even when the weather has been tough and the fish haven’t been so easy to pattern, don’t give up, they are still chewin! March is typically an awesome month to get on the water in Northeast Florida. 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’s common knowledge that the reds will be in the same areas the bait is. There isn’t a ton of bait out there but if you do find some finger mullet take a close look because there’s more than likely some redfish lurking around. 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 to 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 Saltwater Assassin Lil Boss paddle tail rigged on a 1/8-1/4oz jighead or weedless hook. Jig, jig, then pause… then repeat.
The sheepshead bite has been pretty steady this 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”.
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 3-8lb 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