Coastal fishing in the spring can be great. Attention to a few details can improve your odds.
March is truly a transitional month for many coastal fish species. Both saltwater and freshwater fish are torn between the cold of winter and the warmth of spring. With this as a factor, coastal fishing will depend largely upon the condition of the weather this month. An elongated cool season can keep fish deep, while an early warming period could kick off fishing ‘insanity’ this month. Let’s look at a couple of places to try.
Coastal inshore angler’s top target, speckled trout, can be quite finicky this month. The weather has yet to stabilize, making many saltwater species tough to pattern. As long as waters are cold and murky, you can count on speckled trout to be very deep. Specks caught in 10-15 feet of water is the norm this month. You’ll have to concentrate on deep holes this month, till waters clear and warm.
Theodore Canal is a no-brainer for finding specks in March. The big specks seem to hang along drop-offs and points. If you are fishing real cold weather, you should use dark colored grubs along the bottom fished slowly.
Mobile River will also be holding both white trout and speckled trout in the deep slips along the river Working grubs in 15-20 feet will result in catches of bottom hugging fish. Redfish will be hanging in shallower water, particularly around rock jetties. The reds will readily hit fresh dead shrimp on the bottom along rock edges.
If we get an early warm up, you look for redfish to be along the beaches of Gulf Shores and Sand Island. Gold spoons or hard plugs will take the reds as they cruise the beaches. You can also catch the aggressive redfish by using soft plastic grubs, coupled with a 3/8–ounce jighead. Chartreuse or white colors will draw the most strikes.
March signals the ‘full-blown’ explosion of the sheepshead spawn on the Alabama Coast. Large groups of sheepshead will be associating with most any structure with barnacles on it. Once you settle on a barnacle-encrusted structure you should use a shovel or gum scraper to dislodge some of the barnacles from the structure. This will put the meaty insides of the barnacles in the water as well as the smelly juices. This is sure to attract hungry sheepshead. Allow at least 15 minutes for the fish to show up before moving on.
“There will considerable amounts of bluefish as well as Spanish mackerel lurking around the closer rigs this month.”
While not readily available in March, live shrimp will drive the sheepshead crazy. If you can’t locate live shrimp you should seek out the freshest shrimp you can find. In March, fresh shrimp are hard to find. Most bait shops will only have Florida “pink shrimp” in March, but trust me, it will be worth it to find another type of shrimp for best results.
March is considered a warm-up month for most offshore anglers. No need to travel too far to get your lines stretched. There will considerable amounts of bluefish as well as Spanish mackerel lurking around the closer rigs this month.
However, if you have the real need to get your rod bowed, you can head over to the Midnight Lumps off Louisiana. This natural salt dome that rises off the ocean floor to within two hundred feet of the surface attracts hordes of offshore fish. Big Yellowfin tuna will be in abundance as well as Wahoo and plenty of Mako sharks. Chumming the area with bonito chunks is the common way to catch all of the species mentioned. Using those same bonito chunks, with a hook inside the chunk, can pay off with quite a pull. If the action gets really crazy, you can pull out the large poppers to incite the tuna.
Bream fishing should remain steady in Tensaw Delta creeks this month as waters are just starting to warm. Look for bream around grass lines and against any wooden structure you encounter. Even the smallest twigs poking above the surface could indicate fish. Drop live crickets around the grass and wood. Try fishing deeper when you come across deep bends. If you can find seed shrimp, you should give them a try at the same mentioned locations. If the seed shrimp are small, simply add another two or three shrimp to bulk up your presentation.
If we get an early warm-up in March, you should try small ponds and lakes for bream. Concentrate on the north ends of the water, where the sun’s rays will warm up the water faster. If it does warm quickly, you can have loads of fun by casting out small beetle spins to tempt the larger bream. Best colors seem to be black with a yellow stripe or plain yellow.
If you have access to private ponds or lakes, you could hit a bonanza this month. Walk along the banks with a cane pole and crickets till you locate the fish. If you can find wigglers as a backup bait, it could pay huge dividends.
White perch will be the target of a lot of Delta anglers this month. As waters begin to clear in the middle Delta, white perch begin to get more agreeable. Dropping live minnows under corks around the base of cypress trees can result in great catches this month.
Finding any branches or downed trees can also pay-off with great white perch catches. Small plastic jigs fished suspended around the trees or lay-downs will sometimes trigger the ‘tricky’ white perch.
Bass will be a prime target in shallow, grassy bays of the Mobile Delta. Choccalotta Bay, Bay Grass, Big Batty and Grand Bay should all hold hungry bass in March. Inline spinnerbaits, such as the Snagless Sally, will catch the lion’s share of spawning bass in the shallows. Casting and working these spinnerbaits along the grass edges, or above the grass on high tides, will result in great spring action
Some Delta anglers prefer to use their own spinnerbait recipes. “Big John” Burke, of Mobile, likes to put together a bait his family calls the Delta Special. Using a large, gold bladed safety pin type spinner, Burke tries a variety of soft plastic trailers to complete the rig. Chartreuse is his favorite color, but white can be a close second, depending on water clarity.
March can be a truly difficult month to pattern coastal fish. Water temps, cooler winds, and muddy water can all influence fish cooperation. There are, however, a few places that can pay off. I hope you and I can arrive at the spot and share that glory!
See you on the water!
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