Local Fishing Report
Gulf of Mexico
March should see the beginning of the spring mackerel run, a run that brings huge schools of Spanish mackerel along the coast. A few early king mackerel could also appear this month around nearshore wrecks and artificial reefs, and the first barracuda of the season will show on those same wrecks and reefs. Shark fishing will get seriously underway when the waves of mackerel arrive. Bottom fishermen will find that the inshore ledges in 25 to 60 feet of water are holding gag grouper (remember that it’s catch-and-release on gags), mangrove snapper, triggerfish and a few hogfish. Flat rock in 60 to 90 feet of water is holding lane snapper, red grouper, vermilion snapper and porgys. Sheepshead spawning season is at a peak right now and these striped porgies are happily munching shrimp and crabs around almost any offshore structures out to about 50 feet of water. It’s been a good year for amberjack so far, and we expect on-again/off-again spurts of action with these strong fish right on through the spring.
February was remarkably mild this year, so we are set up for even warmer March weather to kick inshore fishing into high gear. Snook are already on the move, leaving their inland winter retreats and moving out onto the flats and along the shorelines all around the harbor. They'll have to feed heavily in the coming weeks to prepare for the upcoming spring spawning season. Drifting the flats with a shrimp suspended under a popping cork will be a good strategy for trout as it warms up, and you shouldn't be surprised if a cobia crashes your trout party since these big brown fish will be sharing the same flats. A few pompano have been mixed in with the trout and these silvery, hard-fighting fish should be around for another month or so. Sheepshead fishing will be strong as the spawn for these striped porgys continues, but it seems that they get less attention as the fishing for other more glamorous species perks up. And here's a news flash: there will be a smattering of tarpon caught this month in the harbor. It's tough to predict when, where or how many, but almost every year there are a few tarpon taken in March.
*Triggerfish season opens January 1, 2018 (closed all of 2017!!)
*Greater Amberjack season opened January 1, closes March 24
*Snook season opened March 1, closes May 1
Let's Go Fishing!
Capt. Ralph Allen