Anna Maria Island Fishing Report March 6, 2024

March starts springtime bite on a variety of species

As the month of March is now here, Anna Maria Island anglers are finding themselves preparing for the springtime bite. 

Although species such as sheepshead, pompano and black drum are present and being caught on live shrimp, many anglers are switching over to live shiners as bait to target spotted seatrout, Spanish mackerel, snook and redfish. 

Determined anglers are carrying both shrimp and shiners as bait so they are prepared to fish any situation that presents itself.

The opening day of snook season on March 1 has inspired many anglers to get out to their favorite snook spots in search of a slot-size linesider. 

With water temps in the low to mid 60s many snook are still in their wintertime hiding places. The ones that are on the move are taking a little coaxing to get on the hook. 

Fishing afternoon tides when the water has reached its highest temperature is advantageous. In many instances an increase of just a few degrees can make a difference on the feeding habits of these early spring snook.

If you’re fishing morning tides, try looking around the deeper grass flats of Tampa Bay south to Sarasota Bay to find schools of spotted seatrout. Free-lining live shiners with the addition of a split-shot to the rig is proving to be quite effective in catching trout. 

You may encounter jack crevalle, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel in the mix which adds some variety to the bite.

And, for those still using live shrimp is bait, there are opportunities to catch sheepshead around the piers, bridges, wrecks and reefs. We should be seeing a large influx of sheepies arriving in Tampa Bay supplying us with a late season bite. 

Targeting species like pompano are also a good option as they love to devour shrimp if it crosses their path.

On my own Just Reel charters, I’m finding myself all over the place depending on what the winds and tides provide. On days with light winds from the east, I’m venturing into the Gulf to fish ledges and reefs with live shrimp as bait. Hogfish, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, porgies, flounder and Key West grunts are all on the menu. 

On breezier days, I’m patrolling the deeper flats in Tampa Bay for spotted seatrout. These fish are taking a variety of baits including shrimp, shiners or artificials such as soft plastics. 

And on the warmer days, I’m experimenting with targeting snook which has been hit or miss. One day they bite really well, while on others they seem to be less motivated.