by Captain Chris Martin
"These Changing Times"
I think March might just top the charts as being one of the more challenging fishing months of the year. It's a time when we seem to experience the most amount of change at any one given time with regards to the fishing patterns and our fishing situations. Last week was a prime example. The first day of the week was mostly cloudy with temperatures ranging from an overnight low of 40-degrees to a daytime high of 66-degrees. After that, the weather went downhill for the next few days. Periods of brief and intermittent rain actually resulted on day 3 and day 4 with temperatures that approached the 80-degree mark, and the wind couldn't make-up its mind as to whether it wanted to blow out of the South, out of the North, or whether it wanted to blow at all on those two days. By the time day 5 rolled around, the wind had died completely and the fog had rolled in, leaving things warm and balmy most all of the day. Then, day 6 started out calm and 59-degrees. The sun was bright and the daytime temperature sailed into the low 80's. The wind went from being absolutely nothing to that of being NNE at 10 mph before sunset. And by the time we were closing out the week on day 7, we awoke to a morning temperature that had now dropped back down into the 40's. The day was bright and sunny, but the daytime high only reached into the 60's. A strong North wind was blowing at 12-18 mph, with gusts nearing 25 mph. Wow, what a week that was. In that one week we came full-circle with regards to daily temperatures – we started, and ended, the week with lows in the 40's and highs in the 60's, but witnessed the mercury soaring in excess of 80-degrees during mid-week. We also were dealt winds from almost every direction imaginable, and with speeds averaging from absolutely nothing to that of strong gusts. We endured precipitation and fog near mid-week and adjusted accordingly to alternating levels of cloud cover the remainder of the week. Along with all these interchanging conditions are the increasing tides that are provided for us at this time of the year, and it's these frequent, sometimes daily, alterations that help me and other coastal anglers recognize March as being possibly one of the most difficult months. Water temperatures will soon start to slowly warm with the passing of each day. And in the absence of winter's cold-water conditions, trout and redfish will soon become more than active and aggressive as they forage for their springtime food supply. So, with all these different changes taking place (basically) at the same time, you may be asking yourself, "How am I supposed to be able to effectively locate a bite pattern?" Well, it can sometimes truly be a contest between you, the elements, and the fish!
In attempting to gain the upper hand in these March situations, one thing that is of utmost importance is that you not limit the area(s) in which you fish to those which have become most familiar to you. Something that has paid great dividends for me in the past is my pursuit and investigation of new wading spots during this time of the year – areas that may have been inaccessible over the course of the past few months due to extreme low-tide conditions. Adding to this, it's at this time that I'll begin looking to areas of mud, grass, shell, and even sandy bottom structure in shallower water, as the air and water temperatures will continue to rise and the bite will begin to increase in skinny water. Now then, because the fish do start to become more active during March in order to fulfill their appetites, I like to make it a general practice to key-in on the actual location of active bait fish whenever scouting some of my more favorite and productive fishing spots. And realizing that there are many changes in tides and winds, I know that the bay waters often become disturbed to the point of being severely discolored. Don't let that simple fact discourage you from fishing any one particular area. Learn to fish the signs and conditions, and not the spot. If you happen upon jumping baitfish in "chocolate milk" water, get out of the boat and throw a top water or plastic bait of your choice – especially if there's bait that's being driven against the windward shoreline. Most of my best results in these situations have come from my utilization of dark-colored baits, and have yielded me and my parties with quite a few handsome catches when we thought all else had been lost due to the conditions. In other words, never give up on the situation at hand during March…just keep grinding!
Keep in mind that you can always stay informed as to the latest that Bay Flats Lodge has to offer by simply signing-up on the website to receive your daily newsletter. Remember to practice CPR, Catch, Photo, and Release, whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region. www.BayFlatsLodge.com 1-888-677-4868