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March Fishing Forecast

March is one of the most productive months for bonefishing on the oceanside in the Upper Keys.  You can find them on just about any of the flats from Ocean Reef down through Islamorada.  With the moderate water temperatures the bones will be up on the flats for most of the day.  Bonefish are the pinnacle of flats species due to their keen senses and ability to frustrate anglers.  But, the reward is in the hook-up and lightning fast runs which are unmatched by any other shallow-water gamefish. It’s important to take a stealthy approach trying not to spook the fish before you can get a cast off.  When you do cast, make sure to land it at least 7-10 feet in front of the lead fish in the school.  As the school approaches, just lift the rod tip slightly to make sure your shrimp is not hiding in the grass.  This will ensure that the bonefish has an opportunity to see the bait.  Once you hook-up keep the rod tip high trying to avoid mangrove shoots.  This time of year there are plenty of sharks prowling the flats looking for an easy meal.  If a shark gets after your fish the only thing you can do is open the bail to let the fish get away then when it’s clear get back to the fight.  Make sure to have the camera ready so you can snap a quick picture and get the fish back in the water and revived. 

March should also bring the first good push migrating tarpon down the Oceanside and in the bays and creeks throughout Florida Bay.  The most reliable way for catching tarpon is live bait but if you prefer artificial, try a topwater or lipped plug including big chuggers.  When working a lure make sure to cast out in front of the leading fish in the pod.  The more realistic your presentation, the better chances you have of getting the bite.  The number 1 rule is to keep your lures moving until the fish eats and you can feel his weight, then set the hook with a few quick strikes.  There are few fish that attack a surface plug with as much force and determination as the silver kings of the Florida Keys.  

In the backcountry, the redfish bite will provide the most consistent bite due to the lack of snook.  Your best bet is to fish the deeper channels in the mornings and then get up on one of the many flats surrounding Flamingo in the afternoons.  When the reds move up on the flats they will tend to hang with the schools of mullet.  You can pole along looking for tailing and waking fish as you blind cast.  Also, reds will create little puffs of mud as they feed along the flats.  Make sure to cast to any muds that you see.  The main diet of redfish consists of shrimp and crabs although the larger ones will definitely eat a live or chunked mullet.  My bait of choice is a Gulp Jerk Shad rigged weedless on the flats or on a HookUp Lure in the deeper channels.  

'Til next time, Tight Lines and Light Winds…….

Captain Lain