March marks the long-awaited end to slower winter fishing season. As I say, when the water temperature reaches 65, everything comes alive! Inshore fishermen can expect the cold redfish bite to thaw and will see spotted sea trout too. And at the end of the day when those bites end, you can try bottom fishing in the sound near the mud flats for southern kingfish, AKA whiting.
When going for redfish in March, I pitch Berkley Gulp baits rigged weedless in and around shallow areas with structure. Redfish consider submerged oyster rakes and isolated grass pods a target-rich feeding environment. The color of your artificial bait will be determined by the color of the water (i.e., use light baits in clear water).
For bottom fishing, lace chunks of shrimp onto small hooks. It’s a lot of fun, especially on a light tackle, and bull whiting can be bigger than you think! The good news is that the Georgia DNR has changed the whiting size and bag limit regulations. It’s now legal in Georgia to catch and keep as many whiting as you want of any size. Please note that all Georgia saltwater fishermen are required to have a SIP license.
Another distraction for inshore fisherman besides redfish and trout are sheepshead. The best times to fish for sheepshead inshore are from two hours before high tide until two hours afterwards. Look for exposed vertical structures, which will be where the sheepshead are feeding. Use purple and black back fiddlers, clam strips, green mussels, barnacles, shucked oysters with hearts, or small pieces of bugged out shrimp.
Offshore fishermen can look to catching some of the biggest sheepshead and black drum during March. Sheepshead and black drum are feeding heavily to bulk up, so that they will be ready to migrate back inshore. Best baits are purple-back fiddlers, raw oyster, clam strips, and green mussels. Please remember when targeting fish listed in the snapper grouper species, the new regulations say you must use circle hooks only! The best offshore circle hooks for sheepshead are Eagle Claw Lazer sharp L-197 G series, sizes #1, #2, and 2/0. While fishing for sheepshead you might encounter a blackfish or other bites, which are also good. However, before leaving the dock you should check all rules and regulations for state and federal waters to know what species of fish you can keep.
Blue Gulf Stream report!!
For those fishermen that want a true challenge I suggest giving some blue water trolling a try. The blue waters of the Gulf Stream, especially off Georgia’s coast, can be very interesting in March, because the big fish are on the move. You may find yourself hooking a mako shark, billfish, wahoo, king mackerel or tuna. Set up your trolling spread with real cedar plugs and chin weighted dink ballyhoo. If you really want to do things old school, rig up a red/black Ilander with horse ballyhoo and pull it way back behind your trolling spread. It’s a stretch to get there, but once you do the possibilities could turn into a serious rod-bending affair!