STEINHATCHEE March Fishing Report
March is a Step in the Right Direction

The month of March is a transition period here in the Big Bend area of Florida.  The transition may be slow, fast or in between, but in the end, the start of March is quite different from the upswing end-of-the-month fishing action, leading into the beginning of April.

The beginning of March, tends to be about the height of the sheepshead season, depending on moon phase and weather.  The transition term is more reference to weather.  Weather, is the current state of the atmosphere, which is dynamic short termed.  Climate, is the historic pattern of weather.  Cold is an on/off switch, while the moon phase is the transmission changing gears according to temperature.  So, never totally count on a simple colloquial reference point to determine whether or not any fish is going to perform anything based on human expectation, within a very specific time frame.  At best, it is an historic guess.  Will it be off a lot?  Not much, but every year has its uniqueness, distinctive as a fingerprint.  However, historical and colloquial information is a very valuable starting point in which to make an educated guess.

Consider, nature has never moved toward stupidness; it is not designed to do so.  It wants to perpetuate itself based on the most favorable conditions.  The slow moves of nature garner better results.  We should be thankful.  Nature creates balance with a 100% success rate if not interfered with.  And, we with greed?  We strive toward the opposite direction in most cases. I’m off the information soapbox.  The point is, that once the sheepshead determine when the time is right, they will go at it full spawn ahead.  Because, sheepshead are distracted by a more important matter–spawning, and that matter requires more than average energy. They are hungry and vulnerable to over-fishing.  It is never a great idea to mess with a fish during the spawn.  It is stupid to over-harvest.  A self-imposed five fish limit, while tossing back the egg-laden females, is a good effort toward maintaining balance.  It is also a great teaching moment for all onboard.  Once the sheepshead ‘limit’ is met, there are hordes of hungry Florida snapper and sea bass on the closest hard bottom to keep the action flowing.
Fine dining with delicious sheepshead, let me share a favorite at our house. Grate some good potatoes, such as Yukon or red potatoes. Take your filets of sheepshead, season to your taste, both sides. Dip filet in an egg wash, lightly flour. I spread the shredded potatoes in a Pyrex pan, then lay the filets and press the grated potatoes onto the filet — both sides. Put into a cast iron skillet with about an inch of hot grease! (I like a mixture of butter and coconut oil OR peanut oil) Gently lay the filets in the pan 3 mins or until potatoes are golden brown.  Carefully turn and cook the other side. Season to taste after cooking. This is a once a year specialty at our house. We have tried it on several fish, but this is truly the best combo for this recipe!