March 2016 Fishing Report
For today’s action call 866 259 4205
March brings outstanding action to the waters of Key West!
From the Flats and Back Country to Offshore the overall population and wide variety of species in our local waters offers the light tackle angler so many options beginning in March. Few fishing destinations can equal the quantity or variety of species found here from the flats to offshore. It is “a time of plenty”….Â
This is the time of year when the hard core offshore angler understands run times and distances can become a bit shorter to the more productive fishing grounds offshore. Our recommendations are always “Full Day” charters especially with three to four anglers aboard but the ¾ day (six hour charters) will typically also produce well.
Sailfish action remains exceptional! This is an awesome time to target your “bucket list” bill fish here in Key West. Kingfish are still here in numbers and remain aggressive however typically the action will begin to wane towards the end of the month somewhat.. In fact the Mackerel faimly (Spanish and Cero) are in our waters in good numbers. These species of Mackerel will continue to be steady action providers for some time usually through August. The Black Fin Tuna are everywhere and providing some absolutely crazy good action as we move into an “excellent” period for these prized pelagic fish from now through all of May at least. The Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) bite is still a bit early in the season so these first choice fish by many anglers may continue to be a bit “hit or miss” for a few weeks more. Keep the Mahi in the “improving daily range” any given day offshore now. On the upside the the rare Marlin “can” come this time of year but again well offshore way beyond the ½ day charter range for certain. Giant Barracuda are plentiful of course and the larger Cobia are certainly possible found cruising the well formed weed lines in March. We watch for Wahoo, again it is early but this season is not exactly following traditional times for certain fish species arrivals…
Reef & Wreck:
This time of year the resident reef and wreck species get red hot! With our calmer waters on the reef verses further offshore now this becomes a perfect time for the angler with concerns about rough sea conditions to head out. The Snapper and Grouper bite is predictable great now (Note Grouper season is closed to harvesting these fish for March). We are limiting out daily on the big Flag Yellowtail daily in March along with most of those wonderful “table fare” species. The Mutton bite on the reef continues to be fast paced on quality size fish. Mangrove Snapper numbers are good and the larger fish are aggressive a bit more on the shallower reef areas of late.
For the angler looking for more of a challenge Cobia will are on the reef and about most wreck sites. Typically the Cobia are ranging from 15 to 40 pounds plus. We enjoy outstanding Cobia action from now through April. Big Jacks are still in schools and patrolling the deeper wrecks in numbers to about 25 pounds have been common and provide the light tackle angler with a hand full of fight! Many locations on the reef will hold a population of Black Fin Tuna and Kingfish for awhile yet. For those anglers looking for a workout Amberjack are here and activity is improving daily for the larger fish (reef donkey’s). Predators are plentiful on the reef and around the isolated ship wreck sites. Large Barracuda are super common and several species of sharks are patrolling these areas as well. The Bull sharks and occasional Hammerheads will make your pulse rise when they swim along-side the boat before helping themselves to your hooked fish still in the water. This is the best charter in our recommendation to be enjoyed on a ½ to ¾ day charter.
Always a fun and productive trip the back country this time of year also offers an abundance of visible marine life, sea and tropical birds on the Mangrove Island shorelines and mirror calm, crystal clear waters. The overall population of fish in the back country remains impressive with several sport fish species beginning with that iconic sport fish the Tarpon! We have entered into the early pre-spawn with migrating adult Tarpon now flooding into our back country bays and basins and out onto the flats. We have landed numerous adult fish to 80 pounds already this year. Our sunset Tarpon trips will begin about April 1st so give these charters some thought as maybe an “extra trip” for an incredible experience with these behemoth nocturnal feeders.
The back country also provides countless species of edible fish, and several predators to target creating a perfect trip for the family or groups numbering up to 4 anglers. The back country is also a fly fishers dream come true with protection from the wind for long casts and plentiful fish which will readily pursue a fly.
Our water temperatures have stabilized from a recent cold snap so quality sport fish have returned to more natural haunts in our shallows. The Redfish action remains quite good and typically does until the end of March into early April. Snook on those calmer, warmer days have really come to life and produced some outstanding catches. Cobia fishing has been outstanding for “keepers” ranging in the 15 to 35 pound range being plentiful and aggressive. This is a time of fast paced “excellent” action from the schooling species such as Speckled Sea Trout, tasty Pompano and the always fun “poor man’s Tarpon” the Lady Fish. BIG schools of Jacks including some huge Yellow Jacks continue to be red hot with the larger fish going north of 25 pounds an absolute blast on light tackle and top water!
The predator fishing was certainly slowed by the unseasonable weather at the end of February, high winds and cold fronts holding over the island made it difficult for awhile but we have rebounded now with signs of the increasing population of huge Barracuda in the shallows. These tenacious hard fighters are back on the menu. Aggressive and always ready to go “head to head” sight casting top water lures to cruising Barracuda is spectacular! The Bonefish population in the back country has been fun lately on the deeper flats. Of course we can always count on the resident species of the back country to top off a productive day. Mangrove Snapper and Mutton Snapper have been crazy good and the Grouper bite has been predictably good while the season remains closed to harvest We “highly recommend” a back country charter this time of year and especially for those guests looking for a shorter than full day trip.
Bonefish continue to improve and provide heart stopping excitement for the highly skilled and patient angler willing to work hard for his prey. The Bonefish action this time of year can produce quality size fish ranging from 4 to 8 pounds. The flats angler of course now can include the pursuit of Tarpon and should include Barracuda and sharks on his hit list if so inclined. Just a remainder that we provide a true “flats fishing experience” and this should not be confused with the back country fishing. These are two totally different experiences and if you are unsure of the differences call us at 866 259 4205 for more insights. If fly fishing for Tarpon or Bonefish is on your angling “bucket list” this is an exceptional time to book your trip with one of our legendary flats guides.
This is a time of rising water temperatures and great fishing conditions are here for the angler, friends. With our hard core anglers in mind we still recommend fishing early morning trips as the most productive over the later afternoon hours however the PM half day trips can be quite productive especially for those people just looking to stay in calm waters and enjoy a fun few hours catching fish. For those anglers looking for that “one of a kind” fishing experience we suggest Sharks in the Shallows! Sharks are especially plentiful now and active in the shallow waters of our back country. Pursuing these heavy weight monsters on light tackle is challenging to say the least and talk about something you cannot do at home! Black Tip, Lemon and Bull are the more common of the several sharks cruising the shallows. Granted not overly dangerous, certainly not for the faint of heart, sharks in the shallows will provide you with memories of a lifetime. Are you up for it?
Regardless of your choice of action friends please book early! Our legendary guide team is always in high demand but for March, April and May we run flat out every single day. Although we are the largest operation in Key West by far with 31 top pro guides and state of the art boats, currently we have several dates completely booked 100%. We run nearly two thousand charters every year so booking well in advance is always recommended. You wouldn’t wait until Saturday afternoon to ask the prettiest girl in school to the Saturday night dance right? If you do that…you will be dancing with your cousin again! This guide team is first call on the island for a reason…book early!…Let’s go Fishing!
Call Key West Pro Guides today to book your charter 866 259 4205 daily 7 AM to 9 PM. We look forward to your call!