Capt. Rick Davidson, Editor Grassflats2@yahoo.com
Fishing report February 2023
Continued mild temperatures kept fish out of the river and on the flats. Trout were out a little deeper, and redfish were everywhere and hungry. Two great tournaments were held this month and the turnout and catches were the best in the past few years. Offshore red grouper made for some nice catches and way offshore, we had some vermillion snapper, golden tilefish and even a swordfish brought in.
Here are some pictures from this month’s catches.
Fishing Forecast for March 2023
March is always a transitional month, but so far this month we’ve had record high temperatures. Trout move in and out of creeks and rivers and deep water based on water temperature. When the water temperature gets into the middle 60’s look for them to move onto the flats into grassy areas which will just be starting to hold pinfish. Redfish are starting to school a little early because of the temps, so look carefully for schools when running nearshore. They will still be close to structure, including in creeks and around oyster bars. Live shrimp or cut bait will be productive.
The sheepshead bite looks to be a good one, especially after the females arrive on the offshore structure to spawn. All that’s needed is a jig head heavy enough to get to the bottom and either shrimp or fiddler crabs to tip them with and some 25 pound test fluorocarbon leader. Some experts are partial to either a fish-finder rig or even a knocker rig, with a sinker sliding right down next to a long-shank hook. When spawning the fish will not leave the rocks, which means you’ve got to drop the baits right into them, so bring along extra tackle. I drop my bait down into the rocks, then reel them up about six inches to keep them suspended in the strike zone. Be prepared to set the hook on the slightest tap. The subtle strike is one reason fishing with braid is especially helpful. I like to use my heavier spinning gear with from 10 to 20 pound braid.
Because they are so available, remember there is a daily bag limit of 8 fish per person and 50 per trip in March and April.
It’s still a little too early to look for the pelagics to come through, but with continuing mild weather they may be coming soon. We’ll be looking for bait schools and Spanish and king mackerel following them, and cobia will show up on offshore structure and even on the flats. Remember you can get live bait from pinfish to shrimp to fiddler crabs at the marina along with tackle tips and hints.
March is a big tournament month, and here are four to think about, all with substantial cash prizes; call the Ship’s Store for more information:
March 4th: Pro Redfish League Tournament
March 11th: Power Pole Redfish Tour
March 18th: Steinhatchee Community Fishing Tournament
March 25th: CrayCray Festival Fishing Tournament
The spring is a great time to fish. Come see us. And make your reservations now for scallop season, which starts June 15 and runs until Labor Day. Plan ahead, it’s going to be a big year!