March 22 Weekend Fishing Report

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Captain Chad Starling

With Spring approaching, the ocean is beginning to warm.  As the water warms, the northerly fish migration begins, so in the coming weeks we will begin to see some changes in our fishery.

Cpt Starling fishing compilation of catches in Jacksonville waters

Captain Chad Starling

As for now, inshore and nearshore, the hot fish is the sheepshead.  They can be caught along the jetties, bulkheads, bridge pilings, dock pilings, and artificial reefs offshore.  The bait of choice has always been fiddler crabs, but they can also be caught using live shrimp, clams, and blue crab chunks.

Offshore within 30 miles, black sea bass are still the best choice for table fare, along with vermilion snapper, ringtail porgy, a few triggerfish, and an occasional cobia.

Outside 30 miles up to 62 miles, bottom fishing seems to be where the bread is buttered.  We've had several nice trips the last couple weeks on vermilion snapper, triggerfish, red porgy, black sea bass, and different species of snapper such as mangrove, mutton, and even some silk.

Live bait suck as cigar minnows, sardines and grunts, along with dead bait such as squid, sardines, cigar minnows, and even cut bait can be used for all these species.

Remember to adjust your hook size to the species you're after.

Triggerfish have small mouths so if you use a hook too big, you'll have a difficult time setting the hook, but you will be very successful at losing bait!

For triggerfish, I prefer either a 2/0 or 3/0 circle hook with a small piece of cut bait. 

Wahoo fishing is still producing some fish but they are beginning to wane.  Either highspeed lures from 12 to 18 kts or skirted ballyhoo from 5 to 10 kts seems to be the best bet.

There's also been some sailfish caught on the skirted ballyhoo rigs.