Well had my first official march islamorada night tarpon fishing trip of the season. Chris and Steph were down from Baltimore, and Chris reads the blog regularly and I promised to make him famous! We did have a light blast of cool air last night with a predominant 15-20 knot north wind which generally the tarpon don't like. You can't predict these things ahead of time, though the best time to tarpon fish islamorada is whenever you can make it down here. However the water temperatures didn't plummet and were still in the low 70s which was a good thing, as well as falling tide till dark which I like. The wind also laid out nicely around 6:00 or so. Anyways I brought a loaded variety of bait included cigar minnows, pinfish, nice big live shrimp, and of course some crabs. We made some drifts early starting around 4:15 pm in one of the channels where I had seen tarpon on previous days, though not much luck. I anchored up near one of the bridges where we saw a tarpon roll as I pulled up and set up. Tarpon fishing the bridges is often productive as most always there will be some tarpon around them. We had one tarpon bite on a cigar minnow but unfortunately missed him. We caught a nurse shark off a bait on the bottom, and while photographing him had another bite on a big shrimp - not sure if it was a tarpon or not but it zipped drag for a good 2 seconds so had to be something of decent size... No more bites here, but we did catch a nice legal size gag grouper off the bottom which was cool, of course we released him as they are out of season now. Nearer sunset we ran further back to catch the last of the falling tide, and on our first drift we did see a tarpon roll. We made 2 more drifts and finally around 7:30 hooked up a nice 75 lb fish on a live crab. Made a couple really good runs and spectacular jumps which my camera phone is not good at capturing, but we did land the fish and I snapped a quick picture. After that it was time to head home. Glad my first march islamorada tarpon fishing report at night was a good one! This week there have been some other fish caught as well, I know Capt. Vic Gaspeny caught one early this morning and the past couple days Capt. Skip Nielsen had several nice fish, as well as Capt. Jim Willcox with one the other day in the backcountry. Tommorrow night got downgraded to 15mph out of the north so may be fishable, not sure how the night fishing will be the rest of the week/weekend. But if your interested give Bud n' Mary's or myself a call and we'll give you an honest opinion! March can be a very good time to fish and if the cold weather stops, the fish are around and have not seen a ton of hooks yet so can feed really well with the right conditions!
Capt. Rick Stanczyk