During March, Marathon and the Middle Keys can typically expect predominantly east winds and water temperatures in the mid-70’s.
These conditions kick start many fishing opportunities and many anglers choose to kite fish for pelagic species.
Sailfish, dolphin and cobia
Sailfish begin their southerly trek toward the Yucatan Peninsula for their annual spawn. When there is an east bound current coupled with an easterly breeze pushing against the current, we have a condition called tailing.
Sailfish, dolphin and cobia surf down the face of wind-driven waves in search of hapless baitfish that are rolling around in the surface water. A kite fishing system gets a live bait splashing attractively in imitation of the natural occurrence.
In the Middle Keys, the area at 100- to 150-feet of water is known as Sailfish Alley. When you find a good color change in this vicinity, you should also find all variety of pelagics.
While the sailfish are migrating south to spawn, the mackerel begin their migration north in search of 70-degree water where they are most comfortable. King and Spanish mackerel will be looking for an easy meal as they trek northward. Large cero mackerel will also join in the hunt and are ripe for the taking. All variety of live baits will get the job done.
The warming air and water temperatures also spur the snapper bite on the reef line in the 50- to 90-foot depths, with yellowtail and mutton as the dominant players. The shallower reefs, at 30- to 50-foot deep, also hold an abundance of snapper, although these fish will be smaller than their cousins roaming the deeper waters.
Cobia, king mackerel and mangrove snapper
Those with a slightly weak stomach may want to look at the Florida Bay and Gulf of Mexico fishing options this time of year. Conditions in those waters are generally calmer than in the Atlantic, and there are plenty of spots to hide away from the wind.
Once you’ve caught dinner, you can tangle with large toothy sharks that are also looking for a tasty fish meal. Most commonly taken are blacktip, spinner and lemon sharks, although you never know when a hammerhead will show in your slick. Make sure you’re prepared with some heavy gear for these specimens.
The bridges of the Middle Keys – Seven Mile, Bahia Honda and Long Key – will see increasing numbers of tarpon during March. There is a legitimate shot at catching one or two tarpon in an evening’s outing if you put in the time. The tarpon run will improve in April and really heat up in May.