March marks the end of winter here in Northeast Florida and the beginning of transitioning to a summer pattern. We will still have cold fronts, northeasters, and windy days, but fewer and less severe than in February. We can look forward to early arriving spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jacks, and other migratory fish as the water temperatures rise. These fish will hit trolled spoons, cast artificials, and flies as well as live baits.
The giant breeder black drum will trickle into the inlets and rivers of NE Florida this month. They like crab, clam, and fresh dead shrimp fished on the bottom in deep water. While fun to catch these huge fish, I recommend a patient revival period boat side, followed by a careful and watchful release. Their value as breeding stock far exceeds their value as table fare. Smaller drum in the 3-5 lb. class are excellent eating, and can be caught in the same waters.
Fishing for redfish should improve at the jetties and in the creeks as the water warms some. Sheepshead will continue to bite around pilings, rocks, and other structure. Fiddlers or crab work well for them. Yellowmouth and silver trout should be biting throughout the river and at the inlet. Speckled trout will be hitting live shrimp fished on sliding cork rigs and artificial subsurface and surface lures. Bluefish will be everywhere throughout the river and inlet. Croaker fishing will improve in both size and numbers. Croakers are easy to catch and provide lots of fun for the kids as well as adults.
Whiting, blues, drum, yellowmouth trout, and possibly even pompano are potential catches in the surf this month. Surf fishing is a simple and satisfying way to fish. All you need is a rod, some fresh shrimp, and a bucket, and you’re in business.
You still have to watch the weather closely and pick your days, but March can offer some banner days fishing on the First Coast!