FEBRUARY 2024 Fishing Report and MARCH Forecast


Capt, Rick Davidson, Editor (greasflats2@yahoo.com)

Fishing Report, February 2024

It was an eventful month at the Sea Hag, with two big tournaments, plus the Fiddler Crab Festival and Poker Run. The Santa Fe Baseball Tournament had 82 anglers entered, with some fine fish coming in. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate for the Festival, with on and off rain showers, but 46 anglers made it out with their weather gear on. Offshore, red grouper season opened and there were some fine fish at the cleaning tables. Here are some pictures from this month’s efforts

Fishing Forecast, March 2024

It looks like we won’t have enough big cold fronts this year to bring large numbers of trout into the river. However, even though things are beginning to warm up, it will take a while for the water temps to rise significantly. If the cold weather continues, trout will generally head for deeper water. There are deep holes scattered throughout the flats around Steinhatchee. Most represent ancient creek beds. When we stumble across them, we always mark them carefully on our GPS units. Some are clearly seen on charts and some are just not there. I don’t mind sharing a few of those holes (but some I won’t). One of the most obvious cuts is directly out in front of Rocky Creek in an area we call the Tongue. These are easily seen on all charts and are in the general area of N29 36.087 W83 25.636. Another spot is a long creek bed a quarter-mile or so offshore of Rock Point, to the north of the river. This is a meandering creek bed that will hold fish on low tides and also during cold water temps; the creek bed can be found at N29 41.003 W83 29.534. And one of the largest is a big trench a half mile WSW of Pine Log island, which is around 8 feet deep and 50 yards long. All of these spots require careful approaches on low water; you will need a bay boat or a skiff and you may need to get there using a trolling motor, but in the right conditions these holes can provide non-stop action. Live shrimp or slowly fished jigs tipped with Gulp baits work very well in these holes. As the tide comes in and the holes fill, the fish move out onto the flats, especially with warming water temps. Capt. Tommy Thompson and I once got stuck in one of these holes as the tide went out; we ended up catching a tournament-winning trout while we waited for the water to come in. The redfish bite has been particularly good this winter, due to the relatively mild temperatures, and it will only get better. As the water warms, they’ll begin to school, although not to the extent they do in the fall. As always, fish on higher tides near shore along marsh lines and oyster bars. Suspending lures and live shrimp work very well this time of year fished around bars and shallow structure; my favorite lure is the Live Target Sardine, but there are many options. Offshore, amberjack are closed until August, and gag grouper are closed until September. While red grouper are available inside of 20 fathoms (120 feet), snowy and warsaw grouper are open. This will require long offshore trips, but we have captains that are going out to these depths (Capt. Chase Norwood).

There are two redfish tournament this month; the Powerpole National Redfish Tour event on March 9th, and the two-day Professional Redfish League Excalibur event on the 15th and 16th. The Cray Cray Festival tournament is on the 23rd, with a weigh-in at Fiddler’s Restaurant.

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