March Fishing Report with Captain Griffin Wood

The water temperature is on the rise and spring is just around the corner!  March is known for windy days and warmer temperatures, as this takes place there will be little changes in our weather patterns.  Sea Trout will start to show up in our area as well as Whiting that show up on our beaches and sounds in great numbers this month.  Sea Trout can be caught in the deeper water in the creeks fishing with live shrimp under a cork or Grubs on a jig head.  Trout are found over grass, sand and sandy bottoms.   We find that Trout stage close to their winter holes between cold spells and live shrimp works great for Trout as they are usually less aggressive and want to test the bait before they commit to a strike. Sea Trout matures during first or second year and spawn Inshore from March through November; often in association with sea grass beds.  Sea Trout lives mainly in estuaries and moves only short distances, adults feed mainly on shrimp and small fish.  Trout are an aggressive fish; as the water temps rises they will strike anything from top water bait, artificial swim baits, spoons, jigs, live bait and various fly patterns.

Red Drum are roaming the flats and there has been plenty of slot and mature Reds caught lately on the shallower flats that warm up during late morning .  Many anglers love to catch Redfish exclusively with soft scented baits that imitate shrimp, crabs, and minnows; Red Fish really responds to the smell they disburse in the water.   Most of the time you fish these lures on jig heads of ¼ ,3/16 or 3/8 ounce  or a weedless set up and work them very slowly through the shallows. You can also use spoons to make long casts to Redfish schools.  Although they do not have the scent appeal they are effective from long distances and on bright days, gold and silver spoons that imitate fleeing baitfish can trigger Red Fish to bite.  Plugs like Mirr-Olure’s will also work and have long casting distance.   Whichever technique you use this month catching Redfish make sure you fish very slowly!  The entire coast of Georgia is comprised of salt marshes divided by hundreds of small  creeks, rivers, shallow mud flats, and oyster bars.  Protecting these marshes are the Barrier Islands. Often as high as thirty feet above sea level,  these Barrier Islands were created by thousands of years of sand-pounding surf building up the beaches.

Jekyll, Saint Simons, Sapelo and the many other Barrier Islands offer this marsh protection.  Knowledge of this life cycle coupled with a like knowledge of the Georgia coastal geography can help you catch fish all year long.  To understand the life cycle of Redfish, you must understand that Red Drum don’t reach sexual maturity until they are at least five years old. They will be from twenty-seven to thirty inches in length and weigh over fifteen pounds at this stage in their life.

Intertidal Mud Flats

Marine Waters, Marshes, Coastal Habitats

Intertidal mud flats are located along the edges of the salt marsh. This harsh habitat is covered by water at flood (high) tide and exposed to the scorching sun at ebb (low) tide. It consists of a soggy substrate (soil) made up of clay and silt that is deposited during slack tide. Slack tide is the brief period between flood tide and ebb tide during which the water is not flowing in or out but is still. Only the upper layers of this muddy substrate contain oxygen. The deeper layers contain decaying organic matter that gives off a hydrogen sulfide gas that causes a rotten egg smell.

Only a few plants and animals live in the tidal flats, but those that do are an important food source for larger animals. Phytoplankton and algae grow on the surface of the mud (giving it a greenish tint) and attach to hard surfaces such as old shells or logs. Insects breed in small pools and the larvae feed on algae and zooplankton. Buried animals such as cockles, whelks, amphipods, lugworms and fiddler crabs eat microorganisms that are trapped in the mud. When the tide comes in, phytoplankton, algae and zooplankton serve as the food source for filter feeders (oysters, clams, mussels, barnacles), and several types of worms including the parchment tube worm. Shrimp and crabs eat worms, while crabs and flounder eat shrimp. Also at high tide, organisms that always live in the water come in to feed. Blue crabs and several species of hermit crabs scavenge for food while fish such as the mummichug, silversides, spot and croker feed on insect larvae, zooplankton and small fish.

When the tide goes out, the muddy substrate is exposed and fiddler crabs come out of their burrows and sift through the mud for food while periwinkle snails eat algae off the surface of the mud. Mud snails scavenge the surface, eating both living and dead organisms. Wading and shore birds like egrets, clapper rails, gulls and sandpipers come in to eat the snails, worms, fiddler crabs or any other floating or crawling animal. Oyster catchers feed off the oysters, mussels and clams. Raccoons also venture onto the mud flat to feed on whatever they can find. The animals that live in or on the mud flats are important food sources for larger animals and any disturbance of this harsh but fragile habitat could have grave consequences for the food chain.

Courtesy of the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve

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March Fishing Report

Tight Lines…..
Capt. Griffin Wood
912 269 7337