Finally, its transition time around the harbor, we’re heading into spring. The winter pattern of working deep into the back country and around sand holes on low tides out on the flats is about to change. We’ll still get to deal with the wind, but warmer air and water temperatures should begin to bring the bait in from offshore and the fish will get aggressive. It’s not unusual to see a good cold snap in March, but overall, it’s a big change from the past two months.

Typically, I still like spending some time working around shorelines adjacent to backcountry creek systems but I’ll begin looking around outer islands closer to the outside. As the month progresses I’ll spend more and more time on the outside. Keep in mind, the first place the scaled sardines or “whitebait” show up are on the best grass flats closest to the passes.

After a cool couple months, the snook will also begin to make their way out of these creek systems. With the higher tides of spring they’ll work their way to some of these outer shorelines and will need to put on some weight after the slim pickings of winter. Shorelines with some adjacent deep cuts and drops are always prime habitat.

Many of the bays, sounds, and flats that surround the harbor will be holding redfish and spotted sea trout. They’ll also be looking to fatten up a bit. So, I’ll be throwing some larger baitfish patterns with profiles to match the scaled sardines. I also like larger 4 inch soft plastic paddle tail baits and first thing in the morning who doesn’t like throwing a good old top water plug. It’s that time of year.

Towards the end of the month, it’s even possible to see some tarpon show up in the upper harbor. These are resident fish that come out of the rivers. Generally, April is prime for this bite, but if it’s warm enough, late March could be good.

Cobia will also begin to appear around the bars that surround both the east and west walls. I like to pole or run the trolling motor down the outside edge and look for groups of cow nose rays as it’s not unusual to find the cobia close behind. In addition, these bar structures also should still be holding some pompano. Hard bottom is the key and I’ve found them up and down both the east and west walls on any given day. I’ve also run into them inside Boca Grande Pass just across the intracoastal on the Cayo Costa side. Moreover, it’s not unusual to run into a school of hard fighting jacks anywhere around these bar systems.

The sheepshead bite should still be strong anywhere there is structure. The Boca Grande and Placida trestles are very popular as is the artificial reef off Alligator Creek. On windy days, some live shrimp thrown up under any canal system dock can make for a good time. The Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte canals hold good numbers.

Spring is coming to the Golden Isles

With the advent of Spring, our waters begin warming.  68 to 70 degrees is the magic temperature.  The big winter schools of reds begin to break up and we are able to find them in more places.  Trout come up from the depths and gather around oyster beds and grass.  In May we expect the first "tailing" tides of the year where the reds get into the grass and tail aggressively grubbing for fiddler crabs.  Tailing redfish in the grass is classic, southern fly fishing for redfish.

In St. Simons we have an interesting fishery chasing free floating triple tail just 1-3 miles off of the beaches.  This is an unusual behavior because they are not floating close to structure.  They are simply free floating.  We look for these fish by idling around just off the beaches.  When I see one, I motor close to it and try put you in a good position for a cast.  The flies are generally lightly weighted or unweighted flies that mimic small shrimp or bait fish.  If you make a good presentation a little beyond and in front of the fish, you may come tight with a triple tail up to 20 pounds.  Triple tail are a hard fighting fish that jumps and runs.  I have said many times, if you can imagine how hard a 10 pound blue gill would pull, that is how hard a Triple Tail pulls.  This pattern runs from late March until June or July.  

At this time of year, I like to combine a red fish and Triple tail trip.  As in all sight fishing, a clear day with light wind makes for the fishing.  So, click the link below to inquire on booking a trip for a species I would bet you have never caught on fly.

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