The Black Marlin bite slowed down as we went into March, but anglers who put in their time still got shots at Her Majesty and we released some incredible fish. We had a few people walking the plank for their first Black Marlin, which is always something special. Sailfish were around in small numbers and strangely, the odd Dorado was being caught, which is very unusual for March. The Yellowfin Tuna came crashing through in epic fashion with birds diving, dolphins all around and the tuna turning the ocean white by smashing bait fish in feeding frenzies that must be seen to truly be appreciated. Anglers’ arms got stretched and tackle got tested by the larger fish over 100 lb.
It was the 40 -60 lb fish I love to chase on spinning gear and catch on surface lures, expecting the incredible strikes. Inshore the bite was on fire with loads of different species, and we had the best Cubera Snapper bite I have ever seen with one boat releasing 18 Cubera in a single day. Anglers released Tarpon, Grouper, Bluefin Trevally and Roosterfish just to name a few making the bite along the shoreline incredible.
The seas were beautifully calm during March and the cold water arrived, but only for a few days and not for as long as we normally see. The water dropped to around 74 degrees Fahrenheit and when it did; the fishing went nuts! With the cold water species such as Tarpon, Grouper and Cubera snapper made their way into the shallows. We still received a few inches of rain in March, which I have never seen, personally. Things were still a little strange, but the fish were here, so no one minded.
Hal and Kathy Hunter returned to the lodge after many years of fishing on private boats, this time brining their son, Randy and his wife, Alice. It was great to catch up with them. Hal and Kathy have caught fish all over the world and fished with some of the greatest Marlin captains ever. As a fellow angler, I hope to have half the stories that they shared with us. Hal brought some of their original Black Bart lures made by Bart Miller himself and were ready to chase Marlin. True Marlin anglers are used to putting in time for beauties of the deep and that is exactly what they did. It was tough fishing offshore with not too much happening. The family convinced Hal to try Inshore action for about 2 hours and then it was back offshore, but in the end, it paid off. Capt. Adolfo put them on two Marlin. The first jumped off, but about an hour later Randy Hunter was hooked up and released his first Black Marlin. The entire crew was ecstatic as they had put in a lot of time and effort for the incredible Black Marlin. Randy walked the plank when they got back to the dock, with cheers from fellow anglers and crews alike.
Justin and Melisa Webster love the outdoors, having a good time with a lot of laughs. Justin is an avid angler and his wife Melisa is just a straight up bad ass. The couple released an inshore Grand Slam, which is something very special for any angler. They released a Bluefin Trevally, a Roosterfish and a Cubera Snapper in a day. Melisa released an absolute beast of a Cubera and a Blue fin trevally. And that is just a few of the fish they caught. The couple released Sailfish and fought Yellowfin for dinner… but deep down all Justin wanted was a Marlin. Unfortunately, it did not happen, but that’s Marlin fishing. They always keep you wanting more. We are so excited to see Justin and Melisa back in the future to get them their giant Marlin, which will be an even cooler story for the kids when they get home.
Mid-March, Tropic Star Lodge hosted the second annual Inshore Fishing Seminar. This year the Inshore Fishing Seminar was completely sold out, and it was an absolute blast! We would like to give a big thank you to Capt. Bo Johnson, JP DeRose, and Patrick MacCafferty, who were our hosts for the seminar. The fishing was absolutely off the charts, with boats catching on average around 45 fish per day. The most prized species that anglers got to release were Roosterfish, Cubera Snapper, Bluefin Trevally, Broomtail Grouper, Black Grouper, African Pompano, Mullet Snapper and even a few Tarpon. During the school, we had two possible world records caught, a Broomtail Grouper of 80 lb and a Bluefin Trevally of over 23 lb. Both fish were released and only measured, so will not be eligible for world records. A lot of the school’s focus is fish handling, how to release the fish safely and the best way to get spectacular photos. Actually targeting the fish and catching them is only part of the fun.
John and Kerry Shanks do a lot of fishing in Florida, and it was so cool getting to meet them for their first time at Tropic Star Lodge. The couple joined us for the fishing seminar, and in all honesty, they are incredible anglers. They smashed everything off their bucket list while with us and even extended their stay for a few extra days after the school was over. Kerry landed a monster Cubera Snapper on a jerk bait, and John got a huge Bluefin Trevally, and a world record Broomtail Grouper. That was just on day-one, with over nine other species caught on that day. By the end of their stay, they had also included some tackle testing Roosterfish and a few Tarpon, Jacks, African Pompano and Mackerel to their ever-growing list. The couple extended their stay by a few days, and Kerry caught a big Roosterfish and a bunch of other species. It was great getting to spend the extra days with the couple, and we can’t wait to see them back next year.
Jay Dollries, Randy Lane and Eric Knop joined us at the lodge and had a great time fishing on Pollyanna with Capt. Fidel. The gentlemen spent their time in between chasing Billfish and Tuna offshore and casting at the rocks inshore. They raised quite a few Billfish and even had a Marlin on, but it was not meant to be. They did, however, catch Yellowfin Tuna trolling cedar plugs and casting poppers at the shoals that were busting the surface. Inshore, the guys got a bit of everything and had had some mind-blowing days. Jay brought an Almaco Jack of over 75 lb back to the dock – a monster that he caught on a popper. The guys also caught over 15 Cubera Snapper in a single day, all on surface lures. By the end of their stay, each angler had released the coveted Inshore Slam, all on surface lures, which is what anglers’ dreams are made of.
March was really an amazing month with so much happening. The guests that came down had a great time, and we can’t wait to see them all back in the future. It was great to be part of so many anglers’ firsts and seeing the excitement of them retelling the stories to each other in the afternoons at Marlin Bar or at the pool while snacking on sushi or and a cold one.