March Comes in Like a Lamb
Florida reef fishing at its best as Bruce Andes of Madison and friend John Springer of Clinton (photo taker, not pictured) show how it’s done aboard the Right Hook out of Riviera Beach. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan )
John Donadio of Guilford was in hog heaven as he hammered Florida’s largemouth bass on live shiners while fishing Orlando’s Bay Lake. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
A new fishing season is upon us as meteorological spring came in on March 1 and will be followed by astrological spring (the vernal equinox) on Thursday, March 19. From the reefs of Florida to the shores of Long Island Sound, fishers are already wetting their lines and reeling in fish. Winter weather on both coasts has been anything but normal. Nevertheless, it has offered up breaks in conditions that provided for some really good fishing.
Up north, we have experienced strong winds and a warmer pattern with periodic mixed precipitation. Down south, it has been warmer, wet, and breezy. Up here, we are catching early numbers of inland spring trout with an eye toward the shoreline for schoolie striped bass and a better start to a winter flounder and blackfish (tautog) season. Farther south, pompano, weakfish, black drum, redfish, and flounder are sought—maybe even cobia, amberjack, and perhaps, offshore sailfish.
Farther inland, where temperatures ran 70 degrees, central Florida largemouth bass have been putting on quite a show. Live baits fished in the lakes were the ticket as bassers, showing a bit more finesse, caught and released bucketmouths that ran into double digits. One eye on the gators and another on the catch made for an interesting scenario. Although inland waters are currently colder up here, largemouth activity had some breakthrough moments. Those generally came when action perked up and forage reacted to a warming trend.
For the first time this season, fishers have already been testing our shoreline and its associated tidal rivers, looking to put a bend in their fishing rods. Some are casting cut baits or small swimmers, as well as flies like a Clouser. To date, success has varied depending mostly on conditions, but there is definitely an early start to this season.
The season up here may be early for reef fish like porgy (scup), ‘togs, and black sea bass. However, down Florida way, there are no lack of porgies, pigfish, strawberry grouper, yellowtail snapper, sheepshead, and the like, in spite of inclement weather. Regardless of where you are fishing, we are embarking upon a new season with a cautious eye on optimism and a lot of pent-up enthusiasm. Good fishing everyone!
On the Water
Springtime in February continues into March as fishers take advantage of weather consisting of sun, clouds, rain, and wind with little in the way of snow going forward. Long Island Sound inshore water temperatures got into the 40s, while daytime temps rose to the high 40s and into the 50s as overnights remained a comfortable 30 to 40 degrees. Unless you’re yearning for winter sports, namely ice fishing, open water was a real blessing this year. Will March whimper or go out like a lion?
Considering the warming inshore water temperatures of the Sound, it is no surprise that schoolie striped bass are being caught and released along the shoreline. Many have taken their foraging to the immediate shoreline and some are also spreading out. Either a 10- to 12-pound setup rigged with small jigs, spoons, or swimmers or an 8wgt flyrod, stripping sinking flies, is ideal for this early in the season.
Inland fishing for trout in the preseason stocked waters has been exceptional for this time of year. Swimmers, inline spinners, scented baits, worms, and flies have all been successful at varying times. The trout have been feisty, of good quality, and above-average size, often times giving anglers and their gear a workout. Within the past 10 days, there have been an additional 1,532 rainbow, brown, and brook trout (including broodstock) stocked by the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection in the Trout Management Areas and an additional 11,495 trout stocked in the Trout Management Lakes including Amos, Crystal, Rogers, and Quonnipaug, which remain open through March.
In addition to trout being active, several lakes and ponds throughout the southern parts of the state are seeing more activity as landlocked bait schools are becoming more active. Topwater action is limited, so dropping a few jigs, subsurface swim baits, soft plastics, and worms are generating hits. Whatever your selection, keep the retrieve on the slow side, even though cranking it up a bit for pickerel is not a bad idea.
Last month, the fishing community lost a friend. We extend our sincerest sympathies to the family of George “Butch” Beauvais, Sr., of Guilford. Butch certainly enjoyed his time on the water fishing for blackfish with his lovely wife, Bette, and competing in the VFW ‘Tog Tourney with Bette and fellow fishers. Rest in peace, friend.
Note: Email us pics of your catches to share with our USA and international fishing friends who keep up with the latest fishing news and frequent social media.
For all things fishy including fishing trips, swing by the shop (203-245-8665) open seven days located at 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline’s full-service fishing outfitter, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better...