Friday, March 09, 2012

Mosquito Lagoon March Fishing Outlook

Spring has arrived, and fishing opportunities on the Indian River Lagoon coast have begun to heat up. Spring in Florida is not defined by any specific dates, but more so by temperature and weather patterns. I have also learned over the years to watch for subtle changes in the local flora which signal spring's arrival. These changes can be slight or quite dramatic, they're easy to recognize, and they correspond with the activities and migration patterns of fish. As an example, I always watch for the bloom of my lavender Formosa azaleas as a signal of the beginning of the spring cobia run along the beaches and near-shore waters of the Space Coast. Another example is the fragrance of orange blossoms drifting across the Lagoon, which hint to the formation of redfish schools on the flats and beginning of the spring bait migration northward.

By the way, my azaleas are loaded buds, and good catches of cobia have been reported offshore of Stuart and Sebastian. It won't be long before these fish arrive in the Port Canaveral area as long as the warmer weather pattern holds. Also look for tripletail hanging on flotsam, weeds, and around buoys, and for heavy weight jacks, oversized redfish, tarpon, and sharks shadowing bait pods near the beaches and inlets close to the end of the month.

As the days grow longer and the ocean begins its gradual warming phase, 67 to 68 degrees, the spring fishing bonanza on the Indian River Lagoon coast commences. Increasing water temperatures facilitate the progression of bait pods (menhaden and mullet) from the deeper waters into the near-shore waters bringing predators we love so much with them. Additionally, warmer waters will draw manta rays near-shore with cobia shadowing them. As always, weather, water clarity, and sea conditions will determine the number of fishable days we will experience in March. This is especially true for those of us who target deep-water species in skinny water boats.

Moving out into deeper water, the spring kingfish run is just around the corner, and it should hold solid for the next six months. Look for the kingfish to begin showing up on the near-shore reefs and wrecks around the middle of the month, and then move in close to shore following bait pods. Most anglers, including myself, prefer slow trolling live pogies, but spoons and frozen Spanish sardines dressed with king buster skirts will also work if live bait is hard to find.

Inshore, the water levels should be on the rise, and schools of slot size redfish have formed up ahead of schedule on the shallow flats, with schools of larger redfish holding along the deeper edges of bars. Also look for the larger sea trout to be holding in sand pockets on the skinny flats.

Last but not least, now is the time to target American shad in the upper waters of the St Johns River. Good reports of shad have been coming from the area south of the Highway 46 Bridge near Geneva and areas south of Hatbill Park. The Third Annual Shad and Crappie Derby ends on saturday March 17th th at sunset after three fun filled months of fishing, so stay tuned for my next report and the winners of this years event.

As always, if you have any questions or need more information, please contact me.

Good luck and good fishing,

Captain Tom Van Horn
Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
(407) 416-1187 on the water

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