March kicks off my favorite stretch of fishing seasons, where the cool spring air and rising water temps really get the fish fired up! It’s a great transition time into the explosive summertime bite though brutally hot mid-day, slack tide lulls, making getting an early start all the more important. The beginning of March usually keeps the same pattern consisting of stretches of days with nice fishing weather followed by an end of the week front and windy conditions. As we push forward into mid and late March, the water should hold water temps steady in the low 70’s and that’s when the real magic will happen.
The snook bite will continue to be off the charts and the redfish bite has remained steady. More and more big trout have been making appearances on recent charters, which are all welcomed signs of exciting times to come. As March rolls on we’ll start to see kingfish and mackerel reappearing in close and tarpon starting to make their journey north.
The big question still remains… Will redfish, snook, and trout remain closed when the executive closure order expires in May? My hopes are that all three will remain closed. The Red Tide bloom that prompted the closure lasted for roughly 16 months from 2017-2019 and I can personally recall being on the water throughout that period in disbelief at the vast number of breeder fish that were dead and belly up. It was a tough sight to take in and it truly devastated our estuary. However, if you were to ask any old-timer that has fished Tampa Bay throughout their life they would be the first to tell you our fishery has been rapidly declining long before that terrible Red Tide spell. There are a few key players in why that is: pollution, overfishing, and new and emerging technologies. Therefore, I am glad the FWC took decisive action to close our inshore species giving biologists more time to understand the effects of Red Tide and monitor marine life’s rebound. I don’t believe two years is long enough for these species to make a full recovery from Red Tide nor reverse the rapid decline of these fish, especially redfish, from so many years of abuse. I do want to acknowledge the continued efforts by so many organizations that support conservation and education and that collectively we can all make a difference to see Tampa Bay and our natural resources thrive for generations to come.