March is Here…Batten the Hatches!

Of all coastal fishing months, March can be one of the most challenging.

We will have lots of wind but wind can also be our friend. Everybody has surely heard of windward shoreline fishing strategies. We also need to know when to leave for the leeward side. Ditto fishing the color changes. When the whole bay turns the color of mud...

I doubt we will face many slick-calm situations, begging for breeze to ripple the surface and encourage feeding, that'll come later. Be extra careful crossing open water, a longer and more protected route is often wisest, no matter how big a hurry you're in.

March can be a tough month for locating feeding fish. It reminds me of September in this regard. The weather is highly changeable, some days you'd swear spring has sprung and then a big front comes through. September has the dubious reputation of being half summer and autumn-like from one day to the next. Fish and fishermen alike can't seem to make up their mind. But we fish hard, try to learn as much as we can, and become better anglers for the experience.

A March bonus is speckled trout weights and, for serious trophy seekers, this is what it's all about. February gets more glory but mature fish will tip the scale deeper this month. They're already winter-fat and feeding recklessly as water temperatures rise. Some theorize that this is in preparation for spawning but I'm not sure they are capable of such complex thought. One thing's certain though, a fat fish full of developing roe will weigh more than one in the middle of winter, or one that has already spawned.

Last Sunday Pam and I waded into a soft-bottomed cove that was chock-full of flounder. I was surprised at their number and also the size of these fish. From what I've been led to believe they should still be in the gulf or just beginning to make their way back through the passes. So much for fishing lore. As good as flounder fishing was last fall I am excited at March's prospects for flatties.

One of the greatest days I ever experienced with redfish occurred in March. We were wading the south shoreline of San Antonio Bay just below Ayres Point. School after school were making their way north through the guts in uncommonly clear, knee-deep water. We had an absolute ball. Everybody lost count but nobody cared, except for their aching arms.

March is also the month that schools close for spring break. What a great opportunity for family fishing trips. I write often the importance of getting youngsters involved in the outdoors during their formative years. Springtime has an uncanny way of piquing the senses, and after being cooped up in classrooms, there's no better time to get them hooked on fishing. Pack a big lunch and never mind if it might be chilly or windy. Bundle them up and find a school of willing redfish or black drum. All it takes is some shrimp and a few crabs to produce smiles and memories they'll cherish the rest of their lives.