We are a little more than half way through March and it has been a fantastic month already and as the temps rise it should only get better. Recently I have been dividing my kayak charters when the wind and weather cooperate to hitting the beach first to target the near shore mitigation reefs for two hours and then hauling the gear in the truck to the back waters for some dock and grass flat fishing to finish out the trip. It has been a great way to get an “offshore” and inshore” bite kayak style…targeting grouper and kings with a chance to land an inshore slam of snook, trout and reds.
The beach water temperatures are inching toward the low 70’s and although the macs haven’t shown up yet and the grouper bite has been quiet the other reef fish have made up for their absence. Grunts, black sea bass, flounder, sheepshead, drum and even the occasional redfish and trout have kept us busy on light tackle. Reef Fishing from the kayak is a cool experience and everyone who signs up for this always has a blast. It is not what people typically expect when they think of kayak fishing. You never know what is going to bite and it requires little skill. Just open bail and let your bait drop to the bottom, crank up one or two winds on the reel and you are good to go. Hopefully the bait will show up sooner than later and then we can add macs, kingers and cobia to the list. On my latest trip I even think I saw my first tarpon of the spring roll just past the swim buoys at sunrise, although I don’t really start targeting the silver king till May.
Once the cooler is full of tasty reef fish we head off to catch and release some inshore species. The snook have been hit and miss this March as they transition towards the passes and beaches. The redfish on the other hand have been dependable, hanging out at residential docks. We are not catching large numbers, but the fish are upper slot to over slot bruisers. The key to the dock fishing is fresh shrimp, live or dead, pitched way up under the coverage of the docks. This fishing requires more skill with casting, but after the first few docks and hooking more pylons than fish, people get the hang of pitchin the shrimp up under the docks, and most time a good cast is rewarded with a good catch. The kayak allows you to get really close and make a good presentation without spooking the fish. If we have time we paddle out to the flats and finish up with some trout action on soft plastic jigs rigged weedless.