March 2014 Fishing Report and Forecast

 Fishing Report March 2014


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Capt. Rick Davidson, Editor (grassflats2@yahoo.com)

 

Sea Hag March Fishing Report

March has been as good as expected in terms of inshore fishing. There have been some great trout catches, and lots of oversized and slot sized redfish. And the seasonal sheepshead bite has been very productive, although the fish have been a little bit smaller than past years. And even the weather was reasonable, at least until the last week of the month when we had a few fronts rolling through…but even the rain didn’t stop the bite. Offshore red grouper and amberjack were plentiful when the weather allowed. And nearshore, Spanish mackerel made a slightly earlier-than-usual appearance around sand bars.

Wade Wilson and his family found this sheepshead fishing with a Sea Hag live shrimp.
Wade Wilson and his family found this sheepshead fishing with a Sea Hag live shrimp.
Taylor Pitts, fishing out of Keaton Beach, caught this gator trout using live bait.
Taylor Pitts, fishing out of Keaton Beach, caught this gator trout using live bait.
Robert Tipton found this beautiful redfish near Big Grass Island, fishing with a Gulp shrimp.
Robert Tipton found this beautiful redfish near Big Grass Island, fishing with a Gulp shrimp.
Ricky Martin and crew fished with trout king Max Leatherwood for this fine board of trout and flounder.
Ricky Martin and crew fished with trout king Max Leatherwood for this fine board of trout and flounder.
Randy Harris caught this fine redfish during an airboat trip.
Randy Harris caught this fine redfish during an airboat trip.
Mike Reeves fished south of Pepperfish Keys to find this fine redfish.
Mike Reeves fished south of Pepperfish Keys to find this fine redfish.
Pal Mellissa Sargent outfished her husband Bob, bringing home these beautiful trout as part of their limits.
Pal Mellissa Sargent outfished her husband Bob, bringing home these beautiful trout as part of their limits.
On a charter out of the Sea Hag, Mark Shuford, Jordan Whitmire, Alex and Michael Mamas and Chris Smith scored these beautiful sheepshead and amberjack.
On a charter out of the Sea Hag, Mark Shuford, Jordan Whitmire, Alex and Michael Mamas and Chris Smith scored these beautiful sheepshead and amberjack.
Luke Holloway with his first sheepshead and proud dad, Mark
Luke Holloway with his first sheepshead and proud dad, Mark
Jason Carrington scored with this 6 pound plus gator trout, the winning trout in the Steinhatchee Community Fishing Tournament.
Jason Carrington scored with this 6 pound plus gator trout, the winning trout in the Steinhatchee Community Fishing Tournament.
Janice Benton, from Gainesville, landed this giant sheepshead fishing with Wiley and Doris Horton.
Janice Benton, from Gainesville, landed this giant sheepshead fishing with Wiley and Doris Horton.
Holly Rust and daddy Adrian found this cute sheepshead that went home for dinner.
Holly Rust and daddy Adrian found this cute sheepshead that went home for dinner.
Got a taste for grouper? Frank Sheffield Junior and Senior, Dean Baker and Ben Shealey from Stark nailed this great board of red grouper.
Got a taste for grouper? Frank Sheffield Junior and Senior, Dean Baker and Ben Shealey from Stark nailed this great board of red grouper.
The Dykes family from Keystone Heights fished with Sea Hag fiddler crabs to bring home these fine  limits of sheepshead.
The Dykes family from Keystone Heights fished with Sea Hag fiddler crabs to bring home these fine limits of sheepshead.
Judge Dave Reiman landed this fine red grouper during the Steinhatchee Community Tournament.
Judge Dave Reiman landed this fine red grouper during the Steinhatchee Community Tournament.
Dale Holston found this beautiful gag grouper which was promptly released…..but this month they are in season in our northern Big Bend state waters.
Dale Holston found this beautiful gag grouper which was promptly released…..but this month they are in season in our northern Big Bend state waters.
Crews from the Black Pearl and the Bluewater Predator came up with this fine collection of sheepshead, red grouper, and some hog snapper.
Crews from the Black Pearl and the Bluewater Predator came up with this fine collection of sheepshead, red grouper, and some hog snapper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Hag April Fishing Forecast

We’re looking forward to an excellent month of fishing in Steinhatchee. Warming waters on the flats will provide lots of trout and redfish action, and the spring migration of baitfish, followed by Spanish mackerel, kingfish, and cobia, will liven things up even more. While the sheepshead bite will taper off, if you can get out early in the month you may still find some spawning fish around offshore and nearshore rockpiles. Gag grouper season is open in the state waters (not federal) in five Big Bend counties (Taylor, Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Monroe) until the end of June. For more specifics, go to this link: http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/groupers/gulf-grouper/

 

There are three tournaments based at the Sea Hag Marina in April. Early in the month, the Florida Lure Anglers tournament takes place on the 5th. One week later is the Elite Redfish Challenge on the 12th and the Shands Fishing for Kids tournament takes place on the 26th. For specific information, just call the marina.

As the flats come to life this month, many anglers will use artificial lures to find trout and redfish. While I love fishing topwater plugs, there are many situations when fish will favor a slower, deeper presentation. Because some of our best fishing is in shallow water, one challenge is to be able to select the most appropriate suspending lure in 3 feet of water or less.  My go-to lures include those made by Live Target, Mirrolure and Rapala. For specific lures and how to fish them, I’ve posted a blog that will provide some more details:

https://bitemefishing.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/suspending-lures-in-shallow-water/

There is a wide selection of the very finest lures, including those I’ve written about, at the Sea Hag Ship’s Store.  For those of you that would rather soak live bait, the marina can provide live shrimp and pinfish, along with frozen bait and chum for offshore and nearshore fishing. This will be one of the very best fishing months of the year, so make your reservations and let’s get on the water!

Now for some reports and pictures from our guides:

Capt. Steve Rassel   352-359-5902   www.lastcastras.com

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Flats fishing got off to a great start in March. There were plenty of trout and the big surprise was the large numbers of Spanish around the sand bars. Redfish can be found around the rocky areas and still a few in the 20 lb. range in the shallows.  April should be a great month also to be fishing on the flats. The strong March winds will begin to taper off and the southeast wind will warm the flats rather quickly.  Look for large numbers of trout to start showing in the deeper areas and moving into the shallows as the water warms. Still have a few days open for April and May if you are wanting to stretch a line.

Capt. Brian Smith www.bigbendcharters.com (352) 210-3050

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Getting from Under a Cold

We’ve all had the bad experience of being under the influence of a long drawn-out cold or flu.  The ears are clogged so bad you’re listening to the world with a bucket over your head.  The eyes itch and water as if your standing down wind of a smoky winter fire. You’re nose is so stuffed you feel like you’re gasping for air through a thick hot wet towel. But, the reality is, you have to endure and ride it out.  At night you lay shaky in a sweat outline of your own body thinking, “Will this ever end?”

And then, one morning, you wake-up expecting the sickness, but, miraculously you breath effortlessly.  You’re free breathing, and excited and thankful to be doing so.

To me, April feels like that first breathe of good air after a long cold.  Everything is opened up!  It is unlikely another wave of cold weather is going to overtake.  The cold period is being closed down for good.  One of the best months to catch ‘gator’ trout is April.  Why?   Grass starts to re-carpet the flats and that coverage brings in an endless buffet of baitfish.  There is no coincidence between food on the flats and April being the peak spawning period for trout.  She requires good food to make millions of the highest quality eggs.  Think, if you’re lucky enough to catch a gator trout, even the biggest trout of your life, she is genetically superior.  She is producing trophy trout just like herself. She is a thorough breed possessing genes of the highest future value.  I’d rather photograph and release her to give my grandkids the opportunity to catch her offspring.  The smaller trout taste the same.  Think for yourself or the government will think for you, in terms of stricter regulations.

April is busting loose time.  Pick a fish and come and catch it in Steinhatchee.

 

Captain Tommy Thompson  352-284-1763

http://www.flanaturecoast.com/capttommy

Steinhatchee and the waters of Taylor and Dixie counties consistently produce great catches throughout the year.  On cold and bright sunlit winter days, we’ll target big seatrout and reds along the rocky shoreline using gold spoons or suspending plugs.  But if it’s unseasonably warm this winter, we may even fish topwater plugs as the sun warms the rocks and shallow mud bottom.

Steinhatchee is exceptional for the fact that we have relatively crowd-free waters and excellent marine services.  For those of you fishing with live bait, it’s available at the Sea Hag—along with ice, fuel, drinks and snacks.

 

Capt. Scott Peters, Jr.   352-356-7502   www.badtothebonefishingcharters.com

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