2017-03-01 / Fish Stories

Warmer water temperatures make for great fishing!

This winter will have to go down in the history books as one of the warmest that I can remember. The water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are nearly 8 to 10 degrees warmer than normal for this time of year. This equates to some great fishing on the horizon.

Warmer water temperatures in the springtime will always bring the baitfish in early and nearly every species of fish will follow. Folks, there is going to be some awesome fishing this spring.

The Cobia or Ling, as many call them, will begin their annual migration from the east to the west during the first weeks of March. This migration will run up into the first week or so of May.

These fish average between 40 to 100 pounds and resemble a large catfish. They travel on the surface and sight-fishing is the way to go from a boat or one of the local fishing piers. Height is necessary, so finding a boat with a tower is a must. Light spinning tackle, in the 30-pound class, with live bait will produce a fight of a lifetime. They are very sought after by locals, and make for great eating too.


“These guys met their match fighting these Amberjacks aboard the Entertainer!” “These guys met their match fighting these Amberjacks aboard the Entertainer!” A little further offshore, on the larger public wrecks, the Greater Amberjacks can be found. They will hang in depths of 80 to 250 feet of water. They too, love live bait, and the larger the bait, the larger the Amberjack.

The locals refer to these fish as Reef Donkeys, because they are big, stubborn and tough to get in. A common rig would be a 6/0 rod and reel combo with 80-pound test line, a 10 to 12 ounce egg sinker with a 6 to 10 foot 80-pound mono leader.

These fish generally hold up in the water column and can be found only 30 to 50 feet below the surface. They are probably pound-for-pound the toughest fighting reef fish in our waters. It’s not uncommon to see grown men get pulled to their knees with a 40-pound fish. This is absolutely my favorite fish to catch and to watch others catch as well.

This area is noted for the Red Snapper, but due to excessive regulations, the season doesn’t open until June 1. Meanwhile, our staple Snapper is the Vermilion Snapper. They too, are red in color, just like their cousins, but the season is open year-round. There is a 10 per person per day bag limit, and they actually eat better, in my opinion, than their cousins.

The inshore fishing will be on fire too, with these warmer temperatures. The Sheepshead will be spawning in and around the Pensacola Pass. These fish could be easily referred to as the inshore donkey. The bait of choice for them is live shrimp or fiddler crabs. These baits can be purchased at most local tackle shops.

The best outfit to catch Sheepshead would be a spinning rig in the 10 to 15-pound class with a 2-ounce egg weight and a live shrimp on a 1/0 hook. Drifting the breaks and natural rock piles in and around the pass will produce a box of nice fish fairly quickly during the month of March.

The offshore scene has been on fire due to the excessive high water temperatures. Around 75 to 90 miles to the southwest near the oil rigs, the Yellowfin Tuna bite is on. An overnight trip is recommended, but there are a few fast rides that can make it in a day trip. The Tuna have been ranging in size from 60 to 100 plus pounds.

Maybe your bucket list is not complete, or you just love to fish, then check us out at www.entertainercharter.com and let us hook you up! As we always say aboard the Entertainer “may the good fishing be yours!”

Return to top