March is our transition month, this is when water temperatures start warming into the 70, which will make the environment perfectly suited for a giant influx of Sardines, Pilchards and many other tasty baitfish.  And as we all know, find the bait and you will find the fish.  

Red Grouper fishing has been fantastic in depth from 90-120 feet, (remember, all shallow water Grouper are still closed past 20 fathoms). These fish are in the middle of their yearly spawn, so they are looking for large, easy meals that require minimal effort to catch. Big baits such as Boston Mackerel, or large sardines are working very well along with large cuts of Bonita.  

Snapper are a bit finicky right now but like all Snapper they are very competitive, so when you find a ledge or wreck with some fish on it you can usually make them bite.  Start off with a light but steady chum line, and keep this going for at least 10-15 minutes without fishing. When these fish start coming off the bottom you can start floating baits back to them.  Light leaders and small jig heads are the key to success here, starting off with 20 lb floro and going down from there if they are passing up on your offering.  Both Mangrove and Yellowtails will be fooled with this technique. Look for the bite to get better as we transition into spring as they start their spawning period. 

The spring migration of our beloved King Mackerel will start here soon. We are already seeing giant schools of Sardines offshore in the 40-60 ft depth and this is typically where you will find the “front of the run” fish.  As we draw closer to our tournament season in the coming months look for the larger fish to start showing themselves around the shipping channel and places such as “the drop” off of Blinds Pass and “The Hardbottom” off of Clearwater beach.  Larger live baits such as Spanish Mackerel, Ladyfish and Bluefish will get you in the winners circle on tournament day. Tackle generally consists of high speed reels loaded with 20-30 lb mono connected to a stinger rig. Here’s a quick tip, the cleaner the water the lighter the wire needed as these speedsters have a keen eye and will shy away from any rig that looks suspect.

The Suzuki Repower Fishing Report is sponsored by Suzuki Repower and Mastry Engine Center.

Capt. Steve Papen
Fintastic Fishing Charters
Capt. Steve’s Website
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Captain Papen runs Fintastic Fishing Charters out of historic John’s Pass in Madeira Beach, Florida. In addition to putting client on fish he has a pretty solid record of putting himself and his team on King Mackerel competing in numerous tournaments and winning the Old salt King of the Beach more than once.