March fishing in Everglades City & Chokoloskee
Capt. Pete Rapps
March 19, 2015
Everglades City - Saltwater Fishing Report
In like a lion and out like a lamb… March is living true to the saying. We had weeks of wind and are now seeing a settling trend beginning. The water temp is now 80 degrees, and along with that comes our late winter/early spring fishery.
We now have some of the best Speckled Trout fishing our area has to offer. On the outside flats, try casting out 3/8 oz bucktail jigs tipped with very small fresh shrimp pieces (cut a shrimp into 6-8 pieces). You can buy them at Everglades Bait and Tackle next to the grocery store in Everglades City. The Trout will be in 3-5 feet of water in the grass.
Redfish are coming back after many of them took a little winter vacation away from the area. For your best chance, bring some live shrimp with you and some of your favorite popping corks. Fish for them on the incoming tide around oysters or hard bottom. I really like to target them in areas that are 3'-4' deep, and where the tide is moving the water nicely. Set you popping cork to get your shrimp about 1' off the bottom. About every 10 seconds, give the cork a good "pop"... enough to make a small splash. The sound you are trying to mimic is that of a fish feeding on the surface. We call it "ringing the dinner bell".
Sheepshead can be found in deeper holes and drop offs against the mangrove roots in the rivers and near shore areas. I like to live line a shrimp on a small 2/0 hook into these likely areas. Sheepshead fishing is an "art" of it's own that requires a lot of discipline and finesse. When you feel a nibble, forget that natural born instinct to set the hook! Let him nibble! Reel in a half a crank, let him nibble some more! Keep reeling in a half a crank or so until you feel him grab that shrimp and run the other way. It takes a lot of patience and discipline, but once you get the finesse down, the fruits will come. If you ever thought about getting an electric fillet knife, now is the time. Sheepshead are thick skinned, spiny, have big ribs, and are perfect candidates for cleaning with electric knives.
Offshore look for Permit and Cobia as the water warms. Permit will gladly accept a small 1" live crab on a 4/0 circle hook. Cobia will hit many types of jigs and bait like a large bucktail jig with a rubber tail, many top water plugs, plastic eels, and live bait like pilchards, thread herring, and mullet.
Snook will be a fantastic sport fish to target, especially later in the month as the water warms up and they begin to head out of the deep back country on their annual migration back to the outside. Get that cast net out and gather some good live Pilchards "Snook Candy" and head into the back country. We are getting some pretty good Snook on the incoming tides right now. Be sure to get them back in the water and released after a quick photo.
Captain Pete Rapps
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