March is a month of transition when we shift our focus away from our wintertime visitors to concentrate on our year-round residents, snapper in particular.
Yellowtail, mutton and mangrove snapper are all readily available on the reef.
The secret to success for snapper fishing is copious amounts of chum. As the snappers’ metabolism increases in the ever-warming water, they require heaps of food to hold their attention.
This time of year, we typically find the yellowtails anywhere from 60 to 80 feet deep. Small cut baits or shrimp drifted back in the slick produce good results. Light line, fluorocarbon leaders and small hooks are essential.
Muttons are often mingling in the slick with the yellowtails. You will need slightly beefier tackle and bigger baits to catch them. You can also fish live baits on the bottom around our artificial reefs in the Marathon area. Or, if you’re privileged to have some wreck numbers in 100 to 250 feet, you’re sure to bring these pink beauties into the boat.
The mangroves are abundant everywhere from the patch reefs to the shallower edge of the main reef line, back to the bridges and out into Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Baits such as fresh shrimp, live pilchards or chunks of pinfish or ballyhoo do the trick.
We had a nice burst of sailfish during February, and we can only wait to see what happens this month. As they commence on their spring trek to the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican coast to spawn, we typically see good numbers of sails in our vicinity.
Kingfish and Spanish mackerel
Also in March, the king and Spanish mackerel embark on their voyage northward. We normally enjoy some of our best mackerel fishing this time of year, as they are prevalent on both sides of the highway.
Live baits, such as pilchards, ballyhoo or shrimp, are your best bet. Fish the bait on a jig head retrieved erratically through the chum slick to draw the most strikes. A short trace of #4 wire will prevent bite-offs from these toothy predators.
We’ve been catching lots and lots of legal-size grouper – gag, black and red – both on the Atlantic and Gulf side. Since grouper season is closed until May 1, they have all been released. But, we will be back for them on opening day with the Powers charter!
We are pleased to announce we are now sponsored by ProGuide Direct. PGD is an all-inclusive online retailer where you can obtain all of your fishing and hunting gear. Please peruse our Gear Lists and you, too, can fish with the top notch gear we use on all the SeaSquared boats! Just click over to http://www.proguidedirect.com/profile/capt-chris-johnson.htmlMarch 1, 2014 Capt. Chris Johnson SeaSquared Charters Marathon Florida Keys 305-743-5305
Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, reef/wreck, gulf/bay, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters, docked at Porky’s Bayside Restaurant and Marina in Marathon. You can reach him at 305.743.5305, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com. For daily fishing reports with pictures, please click over to http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.