Our expanded freshwater fishing outlook now covers northwest Florida rivers and lakes- more great fishing!
Let’s take a look at some of the best Florida fishing waters with some of the best anglers in the Sunshine state.
Lake Talquin should be on every crappie angler’s list of places to visit. This 10,000-acre lake is only ten miles west of Tallahassee, and it is easy to access from I-10. The state record black crappie came from Lake Talquin.
Jeff DuBree of Whipperwill Sportsman’s Lodge on Lake Talquin says that March fishing on the northwest Florida lake should be very good this year.
Talquin is known for its great crappie fishing, and the big specks should be either in the first stages of their spawning or getting ready to go on the beds.
Anglers looking for crappie should focus their attention on shallows and up the feeder creeks, and especially look for the patches of lily pads which the crappie love to spawn near. Fishing the many stump fields can be very productive in March.
Good catches of big slabs will come on soft plastics. Jeff DuBree recommends Big Bite Grubs- on 1/16 oz. jigheads trolled around the outside edges of the pads. Of course, live minnows are always a good bet for Talquin crappie.
Bass will be getting into their bedding, says Jeff DuBree, and anglers can have good luck on top-waters worked over shallow cover, and soft plastic jerkbaits in June bug and watermelon seed colors are very good at this time.
Some bass anglers have good results using bubblegum colored trick worms fished around bedding areas.
Anglers visiting the Talquin area will find the lower end of the lake a good place to start a search for good fishing. The Whipperwill Sportsman’s Lodge offers a good restaurant, cabins and cottages, and a well-stocked bait and tackle shop.
Captain Matt Baty spends a great deal of time fishing and studying Lake Seminole on the Florida/Georgia/ Alabama border, and he offers us some great advice for fishing this famous big-bass lake.
He says, “March is an awesome time of the year to catch bass on all stages of the spawn.”
Anglers can target spawning bass on the beds by looking on the sandbars between Spring Creek and the Flint River. The best way to cover water and find the best bedding areas is to use the trolling motor and have a good pair of polarized sunglasses to scan the bars to see cruising and spawning bass.
A good start to rigging for the Lake Seminole bass is a six-inch-long Big Bite Baits Trick Stick in watermelon color. A good line choice would be 16 lb. Sunline FC Sniper.
Captain Matt tells us that another good pattern for March bass is to idle and use a Lowrance unit to find the hydrilla that is growing on the edges of the spawning flats. Bass tend to gather when the hydrilla starts to grow strongly.
Bass in the hydrilla can be picked off with a Buddha Bait Swagger Jig in green pumpkin.
“A good start to rigging for the Lake Seminole bass is a six-inch-long Big Bite Baits Trick Stick in watermelon color.”
The setup is crucial for fishing a bladed jig correctly. A 7-foot, six-inch-long Buddha Stick medium-heavy fast rod is perfect when paired with a Lew’s Hypermag in 7.5 to 1 gear ratio.
The same 16 lb. test line used for worm fishing will work with the ripping jig.
Anglers will find lots of flooded timber in 37,500 acre Lake Seminole, and in March, crappie will be holding tight to the wooded cover in shallow water.
March should be very good in the lower lake areas for both hybrid and striped bass. These big hard-pulling shad eaters will be busting on schools of shad in open water all through the month.
Captain Jimmy Maxwell of Backwater Guide Service tells us that the massive Apalachicola River system of northwest Florida should be prime for freshwater anglers in March.
Bass in the river should be on the spawn especially during the later parts of March- after the third week or so.
Anglers looking for some fast bass action won’t go far wrong with spinnerbaits in March on the Apalachicola River, but they may have to experiment a bit to find the color and pattern to use. Find some shoreline cover like logs and blowdowns and work the spinnerbaits close to the cover.
March is one of the best months of the year to find bass on the river, and anglers can find bass from the head of Apalachicola Bay as far up the river as they want to run.
Bream should be very good in March, and worms and crickets fished around cover at the points where creeks and feeder streams empty into the main river can be very hot.
For some really hard pulling action, anglers can use both shrimp and shad pattern lures to find and fight with some very aggressive hybrid bass.
The Apalachicola River is one of the best places in Florida to find hybrids, and once they are located, there will usually be plenty of them.
Captain Jimmy recommends the Bay City Lodge, which is right on the river in Apalachicola, for visiting anglers to stay and bring their boats for some fine fishing.
Just about the best way for visiting anglers to locate good fishing on the Apalachicola River is to book a two-hour river tour trip with Captain Jimmy who can show an angler a lot of good fishing water and save a lot of searching time.
Some of the best spots for March fishing can be found in Alabama, and here’s some good advice from our experts.
Captain Jake Davis gets a little bit excited about the chances of good fishing in March on big Lake Guntersville. He says, “It’s going to be an all-out slugfest!”
Bass anglers will have good luck with Rat-L-Traps in the standard Guntersville red colors, and Texas-rigged soft plastic will also be very good. Square-bill crank baits will be good bets to cover a lot of water in order to find the best concentrations of bass. It looks like just about every kind of offering made to the bass this month should be good.
Captain Jake tells us that if the weather is right (that means a mild winter and early warming this spring) the bass could start bedding in later March. We’ll need to look for water warming into the upper 50s or above for actual bedding to begin. When the water temperature hit’s the low 60s, things should get very good for bass anglers as the bass will go to the shallow bedding areas.
Bass anglers should work the staging areas, drop-offs, and channels near the flats where most of the Guntersville bass go to make their beds for spawning.
Crappie anglers should have good results in March by fishing the bigger creeks where the slabs will be getting ready to spawn in April and May. Small jigs worked slowly around deeper structure will be good.
As Captain Jake says, “This time of year, you can almost catch ’em on a bare hook.”
Anglers who spend some time on this eastern Alabama lake on the Coosa River chain of lakes might just find some of the best fishing of the entire year.
Our buddy Captain Lee Pitts says, “It’s March, THE time for crappie here.”
Anglers can fill a big ice chest with fine eating crappie by long-line trolling jigs over open water and then as the month moves on, fast results will come from a jig fished under a float. This rig should be cast over submerged stumps on flats. Captain Lee says, “Throw it out, and let it sit. Then, move it a foot and let the jig settle back under the float. Keep moving the float and jig a foot at a time. The crappie usually hit the jig as it falls.”
Anglers who are crappie fishing on Weiss at this time need to think about using light line — 6 lb test is good because it allows good lure movement and a more natural presentation.
The bass at Weiss are starting to get tight to the shorelines in preparation for bedding. Anglers need to really focus on hard clay and gravel and rock bottom. The bass will be holding on hard bottom structure at this time.
Captain Lee says, “I cover a lot of water at this time using a Larue Biffle bug on a jighead. I can feel the jig hit rocks. I also throw spinner baits. I like a Talon 3/8 oz. spinner bait with double Indiana gold blades. I like chartreuse and white colors.”
Captain Sam Williams tells us that Eufaula lake levels should be good this spring, and that means good fishing for anglers on the lake which lies on the border with Georgia.
The bass will be in a pre-spawn pattern, which means they will be feeding heavily. Smaller crankbaits and lipless crankbaits fishing in five to seven feet of water should be quite good in March.
Anglers need to work creek mouths very hard. Look for water grass which will be starting to grow.
On another note, anglers can have some serious fun trolling along drop off and old creek channels for white bass, hybrids, and even some very big stripers in March. White jigs and shad pattern crankbaits are good choices for slow trolling for the whites and hybrids.
The crappie at Eufaula will be off deep ledges, and as the month goes one, they will move to the tops of drop-offs and ledges as they get ready for the big spring spawn.
Anglers need to pay attention to the weather. If the weather and water warm sooner than unusually, the crappie may start their spawn earlier than they most often do- April and May.
Anglers in Alabama who want to go after something a little bit different from our traditional, excellent warm water fish might want to take a trip to the Sipsey Fork River which runs from the dam forming Smith Lake.
Alabama’s only year-round rainbow trout fishery offers some great fishing.
Brandon Jackson who operates Riverside Fly Shop which stands on the Highway 69 crossing of Sipsey Fork tells us that anglers who come to the chilly waters of the Sipsey Fork in March might be in for some very good fishing.
He says, “The hard part of fishing here in March is predicting and adjusting to the generating schedule. If the dam is running lots of water, it will be too high for wading, but anglers can still fish the banks and edges of the current with streamers- black wooly buggers are very good.”
A high point of the Sipsey Fork fishing scene in March is the arrival of skipjacks running upstream. These hard-fighting mini-tarpon will eagerly take bright, flashy streamers on a very fast erratic retrieve. There will be no doubt when a skipjack strikes a fly.
For those days when the water is low and the generation schedule allows it, fly anglers can have good results when caddis flies start hatches, and anglers who use cased pupa subsurface and elk hair dry caddis flies can have a blast with the Alabama rainbows. Anglers can usually wade fairly close to feeding rainbows when the water is low.
For non-fly anglers, the rainbows will eagerly take salmon eggs on a small hook, and Brandon Jackson recommends the Berkely brand of salmon eggs which seem to stay on the hook better. Also, Trout Magnet lures retrieved slowly work quite well.
Anglers who want to get into some real fun need to think about visiting the fast, rough water below Wilson Dam to get into the late winter/early spring smallmouth bass bite. There’s nothing that pulls much harder than a big smallmouth hooked in the fast water below the big Tennessee River dams. If an angler has never boated below the big dams before, it would be best to book a trip with a local guide for the first trip- that water coming from the dam can be rough.
Captain Brian Barton says that in March the catfish at Wilson are getting ready to spawn. Anglers should look near the lake flats and long points. Between Wilson Lake Shores and McKiernan Creek is a very good region to find these pre-spawn catfish.
Look for rock and wood cover, and work the bait just above or beside the cover.
Catfish anglers should try cut bait, chicken livers, and live shad if they can be found. Big catfish will be found right below Wilson Dam- try big chunks of shad or whole shad in deeper holes along bluff walls. Use electronics to find holes on the bottom that are five feet or deeper than the surrounding bottom- the bigger cats love these areas.
As March moves on, bigger catfish will be moving up in shallower water for spawning.
Joe Dunn has been keeping an eye on the fishing at Miller’s Ferry, and he says that it’s a very good time for anglers to come and try out some of the famous early spring fishing here.
Joe Dunn says, “In March, everything is on the banks in a pre-spawn or actual spawn pattern. When the water gets at 60 degrees, everything will start to happen.”
Bass anglers can flip jigs in the grass that will be starting to emerge, and chatter baits and spinner baits will also be very good. All lures need to be in some kind of shad pattern since shad are the primary forage for bass.
Dunn reminds us that lots of anglers will be riding around the lake at this time looking for the right conditions because the lake doesn’t all have the same water and temperature conditions at the same time. Some bays and sloughs will be warmer and more productive than others.
The Miller’s Ferry crappie will be up on the banks by late March, and they will be shallow near wood and grass. Crappie anglers should look for crappie to be just off the banks. Use a cork with a jig a foot or so below the cork. This rig works very well on suspended crappie along the banks at this time.
Dunn says, “I like a Southern Pro jig. The color depends on water temperature and clarity. Silvers and blues work well for clear water. Chartreuse, black, and electric chicken are better for stained water conditions.”
Important Contact Information
Capt. Brian Barton
Capt. Jake Davis
Bass Guide Service
Hwy 43, Thomasville, AL
Capt. Lee Pitts
Capt. Jimmy Maxwell
Backwater Guide Service
Capt. Matt Baty
Riverside Fly Shop
17027 Hwy 69 N
Capt. Sam Williams
Hawks Fishing Guide Service
Whipperwill Sportsman’s Lodge