Local Fishing Report
Reports Updated March 2019
Gulf of Mexico
There’s lots going on out in the Gulf this month. March will see the spring mackerel run really crank up, a run that brings large schools of Spanish mackerel which are migrating northbound along the coast. A few early king mackerel will also be caught this month around nearshore wrecks and artificial reefs. Some kings appeared in the area during February this year, probably due to the unseasonably warm weather last month. Shark fishing will get seriously underway when the waves of mackerel arrive. Bottom fishermen get to keep triggerfish this month for the first time in a while. Flat hard bottom in 60 to 90 feet of water is holding lane snapper, red grouper, vermilion snapper and porgys. Sheepshead spawning season is going strong right now and these striped porgies can be found around natural rock ledges and manmade artificial reefs out to about 50 feet of water.
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 where 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 should be strong as the winter spawn for these striped porgys continues. In recent years the spawn seems to be occurring later and later in the season and this could mean that the March will see the best action of the year. 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 every year there are a few tarpon taken in March. As a reminder: even though your regulations booklet indicates otherwise, snook and redfish seasons are both closed in this region this month. And, all harvest of trout over 20 inches in length has been temporarily suspended.
Fishing Season Updates
- Season opened March 1, closes June 1
- New regulations: size limit is now 15″ fork length, bag limit is now one per person
- Season closed November 1, opens May 1, 2019, closes June 1
- Emergency action by FWC: Gulf coast from Hernando Beach to Naples, catch-and-release only now through May 10, 2019. Season will next open on September 1, 2019.
- Emergency action by FWC: Gulf coast from Hernando Beach to Naples, catch-and-release only now through May 10, 2019. Season will open May 11, 2019.
- Emergency action by FWC: Gulf coast from Hernando Beach to Naples, no harvest of trout over 20 inches in length now through May 10, 2019. Harvest of trout over 20″ will open May 11, 2019.
- Season closed January 1, opens June 1
- New regulation in Florida waters: Bag limit now includes a 2 fish per boat maximum
- New bag limit: 8 fish per person, 50 maximum per boat