March Madness is upon us, and we’re not talking college hoops.
The waters are warming both Bayside and Oceanside, which is spurring on some serious fish movement.
Sailfish, kingfish and wahoo
We’re seeing an upswing in the sailfishing. Live pilchards are the baits of choice lately, although small bluerunners or goggle eyes fished with a kite have also been producing.
It’s hard to go wrong in the depth range of 120 to 180 feet, preferably along a color change. And, with the stronger easterly breezes we typically have during March, we should see some sailfish tailing activity.
There are loads of kingfish to be had, especially around the wrecks and on the main reef line. Again, live pilchards are working as well as pilchard jigs. Most of the kings are in the 10- to 20-pound class, but there’ve been some hefty ones taken on a large, live bluerunners fished underneath a float or a kite.
And, in the 100- to 150-foot areas, there are good size wahoo mixed in with the kings.
On the bottom, you have good mutton snapper action, with a real mix of sizes from just-legal to as big as 15 to 18 pounds. Pilchards and pinfish are the baits to use.
Reef, patches and Hawk Channel
The yellowtail snapper fishing on the reef remains good, with lots of medium size ‘tails anywhere from 30 to 60 feet. There have been a few smaller muttons up to about eight pounds mixed in here as well.
The patch reefs are providing plenty of keeper size yellowtails plus some mangroves and loads of smaller kings and nice size cero mackerel. There’s also plenty of catch-and-release grouper action.
Hawk Channel still has the usual assortment of snapper plus hogfish and porgy. Good size king mackerel up to 25 to 30 pounds are in this zone as well. Shrimp and pilchards are the baits of choice.
Out in Florida Bay, the Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper are still abundant. Use chunk baits, pinfish and shrimp for the best success.
The week’s best
It’s been hog heaven on the SeaSquared boats this week, with double-digit catches of delicious hogfish for many of our customers. Our inshore fishing trips have also produced dozens of snapper dinners plus kingfish going in our smokers. Rounding out the catches were porgy, yellowjacks, Spanish and cero mackerel and lots of sharks.
March 9, 2016
Capt. Chris Johnson
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Capt. Chris Johnson specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters in Marathon. You can reach him at 305-743-5305, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com and http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.