Where to Fish in March

The best places to catch your favorite species this month.

The Salt Water Sportsman editors list the top two locations to fish in March for some of the most popular species, plus notes about each fish-location pairing.

Pacific Blue Marlin
Pacific blue marlin
Pacific blue marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: New Zealand
Second choice: Panama

Historically, March has been when blue marlin peak off New Zealand as the bountiful waters reach ideal temperatures. Expect lots of 300-plus-pound specimens patrolling the stretch from North Cape to the Bay Islands, and pay special attention to the areas of Tairua and Whitianga. In Panama, the blue marlin bite wanes, but Tropic Star, Sport Fish Panama and other lodges still produce fish for visiting anglers.

Atlantic Blue Marlin
Atlantic blue marlin
Atlantic blue marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Brazil
Second choice: Bahamas

Brazil’s central coast is the top spot for blues this month. The marlin may not be quite as plentiful as a month or two ago, but most of those still around exceed 500 pounds, so go prepared to battle some real leviathans. By contrast, blue marlin season is just getting underway in the Bahamas, with an increasing number of fish showing up along the eastern edge of the Gulf Stream, near Bimini.

Black Marlin
black marlin
Black marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Panama
Second choice: Australia

Reliable action with 300- to 500-pound blacks becomes the main attraction along Panama’s Pacific coast, but the number of fish on the prowl for a mahi, tuna or bonito meal dwindles sharply come April, so act fast. In Gold Coast, Australia, juvenile marlin continue to delight fly and light-tackle anglers who, thanks to the abundance of bait, find plenty of targets on the outskirts of patch reefs and sometimes on the flats.

White Marlin
White marlin
White marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Brazil
Second choice: Mexico

Big whites remain active off Vitoria. Many forage along the first drop, 18 miles offshore, but they’re likely to push farther out if food is scarce on the continental shelf. In the Yucatan Channel, enough white marlin have arrived to provide solid action off Isla Mujeres and Cancun. Their numbers increase through April, creating competition for food with sailfish and other whites, boosting chances for big-game anglers.

Atlantic Sailfish
Atlantic sailfish
Atlantic sailfishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Mexico
Second choice: Florida

Peak time for sailfish in Mexico’s Yucatan Channel begins in March, and anglers trolling rigged or live baits off Isla Mujeres, Cancun and Cozumel can expect to amass multiple releases if they put in the time. The fish seem to keep banking hours in this area, so be on the water from midmorning through early evening for top results. Sails chase ballyhoo around Keys patch reefs and along South Florida reef lines.

Pacific Sailfish
Pacific sailfish
Pacific sailfishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Guatemala
Second choice: Costa Rica

Guatemala’s famous sailfish-hits parade continues pleasing visiting anglers as boats out of Iztapa and neighboring Puerto Quetzal raise multiple fish daily, often returning to the dock with 20 or more releases. In Tico waters, sport-fishing fleets out of Los Sueños, Jaco, Quepos and Golfito put up similar numbers during short-lived hot streaks, and otherwise tally three to six daily releases in between.

Striped Marlin
striped marlin
Striped marlinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Mexico
Second choice: New Zealand

Renowned hot spots like Golden Gate, San Jaime, and the canyons of San Lucas and Santa Maria produce more than enough fish to keep game boats out of Cabo San Lucas busy this month. In Kiwi waters, striped marlin fishing builds to its crescendo in March as ample forage and ideal conditions foster fast action with some of the largest samples of the species, including superlative specimens in the 400-pound range.

Wahoo
Wahoo
WahooIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Cayman Islands
Second choice: Bahamas

The seamounts off the Cayman Islands come into their own this month, often yielding a dozen or more striped torpedoes in the 30- to 60-pound range to boats trolling Ilander-lure-horse-ballyhoo combinations and high-speed diving lures. In the Bahamas, San Salvador and Cat Island still produce enough ’hoos to make the trip worthwhile, especially considering the possibility of fish exceeding 100 pounds.

Yellowfin Tuna
yellowfin tuna
Yellowfin tunaIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: North Carolina

Boats out of Venice and Grand Isle, Louisiana, have no trouble intercepting schools of hungry yellowfins this month. Floating oil rigs anchored in 3,000 feet of water out in the Gulf attract many, but the famous Lumps are likely to yield some of the largest tuna. Big-game hunters fishing off North Carolina’s Outer Banks are rewarded with plenty of 40- to 80-pound yellowfins this time of year.

blackfin tuna
Blackfin Tuna
Blackfin tunaIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: North Carolina

The End of the Bar off Key West, the 409, the famous Islamorada and Marathon humps, and other lesser underwater peaks are flush with blackfins this month. Chumming around anchored shrimp boats on the Gulf side of the Keys also pays off. Solid numbers of blackfins patrol the first drop off North Carolina’s Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

Bonefish
bonefish
BonefishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Bahamas
Second choice: Mexico

As winter loosens its influence on prevailing weather patterns, bonefishing becomes increasingly predictable in the Bahamas. Strong winds, however, keep water off some flats and stack it up on others, requiring anglers to keep an eye on wind direction to increase chances for success. March is a productive month on the flats of Mexico’s Yucatan, where hordes of 2- to 4-pound bones eagerly take flies and small jigs.

Snook
snook
SnookIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Costa Rica

Florida linesiders leave their wintering grounds and start moving toward open water. Fish bays adjacent to coastal rivers or the Intracoastal Waterway, or try oyster bars and deep shorelines just inside tidal creeks and residential canals. In Costa Rica, coastal rivers around Quepos and Golfito harbor lots of fish exceeding 20 pounds this time of year. Work foam lines between the river mouth and the first couple of bends.

Tarpon
Tarpon
TarponIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Costa Rica

The influx of early arrivals increases steadily in the Everglades, Florida Bay and various lower Keys bights. Meanwhile, day and nighttime action improves in South Florida’s inlets and adjacent beaches as waters warm up. In Costa Rica, the largest concentrations of tarpon stage around the mouth of Rio San Juan, Rio Colorado, Parismina and Limon, where jigs, sinking crankbaits, and whistler flies on sinking lines coax strikes.

Permit
Permit
PermitIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Belize
Second choice: Mexico

In Belize, dry season starts, providing more clear, sunny days to sight-fish for permit, which will be plentiful around the outer atolls, the grass and patchy flats along the mainland, and the 20-mile-long string of shoals — known as Permit Alley — in between. In Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, anglers find plenty of active permit on the flats and along the reef line from Punta Allen south to Chetumal Bay, near the Belize border.

Red Drum
red drum
Red DrumIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: Florida

In southeast Louisiana, pods of bull reds continue to gravitate toward outer islands and major shoals in Chandeleur Sound, Breton Sound, and Black and California bays, as well as coves and bayous throughout the delta. Keeper-size fish are widespread in the marshes. In Florida, reds are abundant and active on both coasts, but the wind forces sight-casters to look along protected shorelines and up coastal creeks.

striped bass
Striped Bass
Striped bassIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Maryland
Second choice: California

Chesapeake Bay, with its various coastal rivers and many feeder creeks, offers stripers plenty of staging areas with mild water temps and a plethora of baitfish and crustaceans for sustenance. In Northern California, the Sacramento Delta and San Francisco Bay also offer striped bass plenty of forage, as well as deep shorelines and underwater structure to congregate around.

Swordfish
swordfish
SwordfishIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: Mexico

South Florida remains the mecca of broadbill angling. March is when many crews bring some massive fish back to the dock, but springtime high winds often make fishing during daylight hours the safer proposition. Waters off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, offer a better than average chance to tangle with swordfish, some of which will be sunning themselves, finning on the surface this time of year.

King Mackerel
king mackerel
King mackerelIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Florida
Second choice: North Carolina

The smoker king bite remains hot west off Key West, but this month, it incrementally spreads up the Gulf of Mexico coast to the Florida Panhandle. In North Carolina, catches of truly large king mackerel become fewer and farther between, but plenty of 6- to 10-pound snakes and 15- to 20-pounders remain on the prowl, especially off the Outer Banks. Chumming and free-lining live baits is the ticket to success.

Seatrout
seatrout
SeatroutIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Louisiana
Second choice: Florida

Large expanses of mud and shell bottom, miles and miles of man-made pipelines and natural, deep bayous, and oodles of shrimp and small baitfish make Louisiana’s Delacroix and Barataria Bay prime for speckled trout in the spring. Use a live shrimp or soft plastic under a popping cork, or rigged on a lead-head to fish near the bottom. In Florida, gator trout ( 5 pounds and up) hunt skinny water early and late in the day.

Dolphin
mahimahi
DolphinIllustration by Keilani Rodriguez

First choice: Panama
Second choice: Hawaii

For at least another month, dorado remain abundant off Panama’s Pacific coast, where big bulls and cows dart under the floating debris that gathers along the color change, and schoolies are frequently caught near the rocks by the crews of big-game boats jigging for marlin bait. In Hawaii, now is when large numbers of dolphin make the scene, and availability of gaffer-size fish steadily increases as April approaches.