Fishing trips with Quiet Waters were focused on hunting snook and redfish in shallow water and staying away from red tide early in the month of March. Red tide, which briefly moved inshore, did not impact any charters as we were able to stay far away from any impacted areas. Eventually, winds shifted and began pushing the plume of red tide back out into the Gulf which opened up more areas for us to fish.
The first half of March was warm and shallow water fish were aggressive. About midway through the month, a cold front came through and dropped the water temperature which changed the behavior of shallow water species. As the water warmed, fish returned to their pre-cold front behavior.
Prior to our most recent cold spell, snook were enjoying the warm shallow water. Snook schooled up around clouds of small bait and terrorized small baitfish. The aggressive pursuit of bait by schooling snook was frequently marked by surface explosions similar to what a school of jacks might produce.
We did well using small baitfish patterns and the bigly floating minnow when fly fishing for these aggressive snook. We mixed in sparsely dressed DT specials situationally. After the cold snap, snook fishing tended to be slower in the morning, but picked up as the water warmed up in the afternoon.
Dock light fishing seems to be the best way to target snook year-round and we found aggressive snook on the dock lights even on the cooler evenings. Dock light trips were run as far south as Sarasota and as far north as Bradenton. Small flies continue to work well on the lights at night. Sometimes it seems the smaller the better. Anglers using light tackle did well with the smallest shrimp imitations available and lipped suspending plugs.
Redfish were shallow and happy after the cold front passed and the weather began warming up. Reds provided some excellent targets for us on sight fishing trips into Lower Tampa Bay. Crustacean and smaller baitfish patterns were the best flies for redfish in shallow water. The best lures were paddletails on jig heads and smaller finesse baits like small soft plastics on a ned head rig.
Anglers who wanted quick and easy action found what they were looking for over the deep grass. The deep grass bite was consistently good throughout the changing weather patterns experienced this March. Seatrout, mackerel, ladyfish, and other deep grass species provided plenty of action. Light tackle anglers did great with paddletails on quarter ounce jigs, while fly anglers succeeded with clouser deep minnows on sinking lines.
The coastal waters in the areas where Quiet Waters runs fishing charters are in good shape. Red tide has not been a problem for over two weeks and the shallow water in our area is looking great. There shouldn’t be too much cold weather left and spring fishing is here.
Thanks for Reading,
Capt. Brian Boehm
Quiet Waters Fishing