The great weather to finish February will likely be a good bet for the month of March.  I sure hope so because the schedule is packed!  The extended daylight hours, warmth and migration will lead to the return of the masses of baitfish.    Little by little, they have returned to the area to start spring but April will hold acres and acres of baitfish schools.

It is time to start keeping your eyes open again:  Regardless of your decision on what to fish for: Proximity to the bait will be important.    Areas that usually hold redfish or trout will be vacant if there are not food sources there.   Cue in on the visual cues:  Hovering or diving birds, bubbled up water and surface explosions.   Any area near a Gulf pass will have attacking predators pushing the schools of bait to the top.    For this kind of action, take along some 40-pound leader to prevent cutoffs.

Artificial lures are great year-round but March is one of the best months to build your confidence with these options.   With the return of massive baitfish schools even redfish will be “head up” when feeding.   The 12 Fathom Mullet becomes king of the Redfish in April.   On a 1/8-ounce jighead, the schools of redfish will actually bump heads trying to get to the lure.

March will also provide solid speckled trout action.    March was oddly “off” for the larger redfish and trout but April historically has some of the most cooperative feeding of the entire year.    Lures don’t have to be moved as painstakingly slow as the cooler or warmest months.     The action should be pretty good no matter what part of the day you go.  With good tides, redfish should be active throughout the middle part of the day.

The best of the rest:   flounder, spanish and king mackerel will be invading the region in incredible numbers.  Again:  Following the baitfish, the mackerel and kingfish will spend a lot of the month of April right here in the Tampa Bay area.

Pompano will be moving into the passes and big Tampa Bay bridges eventually and will be caught on the Captain Joe Hebert “Silly Willy” (I like yellow best) with a pink teaser.    This may be more likely in April but is possible with this current weather trend.   Kept in contact with the bottom, you’ll find out quickly if the pompano are there.

Also “in contact with the bottom”: Flounder also follow the baitfish invasion.  Same as pompano, this may happen this month but for sure it will go into full swing by next month.     Be ready for it because anything can happen in the month of March!

Regulations: Six per person, minimum of 11-inches (to the fork) and not longer than 20-inches (to the fork) and may possess one pompano over 20-inches.  Trout:  4 fish 15 to 20 inches, one fish can be over 20 inches.   Flounder, ten fish minimum length 12 inches.   Redfish, 1 fish 18 to 27 inches.    Spanish mackerel, 15 fish per day with a 12 inch minimum.

Neil Taylor
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