March Offshore Gulf Fishing Forecast
By, Capt. Dave Pinkham

 

All up and down the west coast of Florida the month of March always seems to usher in with it an abundance of high expectations. As the weather and the water temperatures begin to warm, the Gulf of Mexico should heat up with lots of fishing action.

This past winter was a warm one anyway, so I'm expecting March to continue with the warmer than usual trend and usher in an early king mackerel run. As this annual migration takes place, action out on the gulf will get hot and heavy.

Each year at about this time give or take a couple of weeks, large schools of bait fish usually start showing up offshore of the coastline. With an ample food supply readily available many different species of larger game fish will begin to make their appearance on the spring stage.
Following is a March fishing forecast of the different species of fish anglers along Florida's southwest coastline can expect to encounter during March.

King mackerel also called kingfish should start their spring run moving north up Florida's west coast over the next few weeks. As this annual migration unfolds, some of the most exciting fishing opportunities of the year will open up with plenty of fishing action for all. Look for heavy concentrations of feeding kingfish in areas where the bait schools are located.
Spanish mackerel the smaller cousin of the big kings should also be making a good showing now that spring is at our doorstep. These silver speedsters will hit most any moving bait when they are actively feeding. Trolling or casting small silver spoons is a proven technique for provoking mackerel into hitting.

Little tunny often show up just ahead of the mackerel schools as they arrive chasing the migrating schools of bait fish. Also called bonito, these small 10-pound class tuna offer excellent sport for the light tackle angler.

Grouper fishing should bust wide open over the next few weeks as the gag grouper continue to show up on area ledges and wrecks. Natural baits fished at or near the bottom is a sure-fire method to catch them. Another great way to hook into big gags is trolling large lipped lures such as Mann's stretch-30. Remember that all grouper must be released until the season reopens March 15th.

Mangrove snapper will be a good fill in until grouper season re-opens. Mangrove snapper tend to hang around the wrecks and the hard rocky bottom areas. Once again fishing with natural baits at or near the bottom will produce mangroves. Gearing down to lighter tackle can often mean the difference between catching these wary fish or not.

Cobia fishing should start happening as schools of these migratory fish move up the coastline. Often seen swimming at or near the surface, cobia will normally charge a fresh live baitfish such as a pinfish or threadfin sardine.

Blackfin tuna usually make a good showing about the same time as the king mackerel do. These fish usually average 20 to 25 pounds, and can make for one heck of an exciting cap to a good day of fishing. When targeting blackfin tuna consider starting your quest at least 20 miles out on the gulf. Live bait fish drifted over significant structure such as a shipwreck or spring will often produce blackfin tuna.

Greater Amberjack will also be caught while fishing around the deeper wrecks and springs during the month of March.

Obviously, the month of March is a great time for fishing out on the Gulf of Mexico. If you're too busy to go fishing, you're just too busy! Get out and go fishin cuz'  it's good fer ya!

Capt. Dave Pinkham operates his offshore charter fishing boat Legacy out of the Crow's Nest Marina and Restaurant in Venice. For information on a fishing charter please call 941-473-4603, or check www.charter-boatfishing.com


 

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