Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Home RSS

On the Water: March is the kickoff to spring fishing

February 28, 2018
By Capt. Bill Russell , Pine Island Eagle

This is the month that kicks off our spring fishing season. Spring fishing is looked upon as some of the best of the year with a wide variety of species willing to bend a rod. Last month brought us temperatures above normal, reaching into the 80s just about every day. We could already see the change in fishing the past couple weeks of February as water temperatures climbed in the 70s.

For fun, rod-bending action, it's hard to beat targeting areas with schooling Spanish mackerel, bluefish, sea trout, ladyfish and other "surprise" fish. It's often possible to anchor on one spot and hook a fish just about every cast. Fishing with spring breakers from elementary school through their college years, most have one thing in common, they want action. They aren't as concerned about landing a trophy gamefish but would rather keep busy with a bent rod and screaming drags. Plus, the "surprise" fish we mentioned could include sharks of multiple species, tarpon, cobia and others, all with the possibility of being large, so you want to keep a heavier rig armed and ready if anyone is up to the challenge. To locate such an area on the inshore waters, look for activity such as birds working the water, fish breaking the surface as they chase bait fish, and pods of dolphin in the area. Dolphin are very intelligent - they generally are hanging around an area that potentially holds their next meal.

Spanish mackerel are a great target as they are ferocious feeders, lightning fast and offer a good fight. Plus, prepared fresh they are excellent table fare that is often overlooked. To me they are the perfect fish when looking for fun and action with spring breakers. Where mackerel are present, odds are good that large sharks are nearby - sharks love snacking on macks. Good concentrations of Spanish mackerel were working the Gulf passes over the past few weeks.

This month kicks off the spring snook season (March & April) and often overlooked, has the potential as one of the best snook fishing months of the year. Water temperature is critical for snook - too cold and they are often dormant. As the water rises above 70 degrees, snook become very active, on the move, and hungry. Good snook fishing reports were common over the past few weeks and should only get better.

With the warming water bringing an invasion of bait fish, big trout should become common catches. Many of our largest sea trout of the year will be caught this month inshore, with "gators" approaching 30 inches a possibility and fish over 20 inches common. Trout are beginning their spring spawn cycle - look for the bigger fish to get very aggressive and hungry.

Finally, after months of daytime low tides or very poor highs, our first spring high tides will begin. The higher tides will allow good opportunities for targeting redfish along mangrove shorelines and over oyster bars. For anglers that prefer skinny water to chase tailing reds or sight fishing, we will see days with good low tides also.

Offshore, if the weather cooperates, we should see good opportunities for a variety of fish, including reef dwellers like snapper, sheepshead, grouper, grunts, porgys and others. As the water warms, schools of fast moving Spanish and king mackerel, plus false albacore or bonito and even some blackfin tuna are making their way up the coast and busting up any schooling bait fish they encounter. Keep an eye out for tripletail and don't be surprised if a big cobia makes his presence around your boat while bottom fishing. Early season tarpon will begin to show not far off the beaches, generally to the south and making their way up the coast.

March is a month where anything is possible, and you should always expect to hook the unexpected. If you have company spring breaking from the north, it's a great time to get them on the water, away from the congested roads and crowds, and show them what a good time in Florida is all about!

If you have a fishing report of for charter information, please contact us at: Gulf Coast Guide Service, phone: 239-283-7960, Website: or email:

Have a safe week and good fishin'.

As a native of Pine Island, Bill Russell has spent his entire life fishing and learning the waters surrounding Pine Island and as a professional fishing guide for the past 18 years.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web