March fishing report | Charlotte Harbor, Boca Grande, Englewood

Charlotte Harbor snook

Spotted sea trout action is hot!

Capt Kelly and I have had fin-nominal days out on the water. The trout bite has been very reliable and a popping cork and a live shrimp prove a deadly combination. Hopefully with the warmer weather and the water temps creeping back up into the mid to high 70’s we’ll see better bait showing up and more of our game fish species becoming more active. Topwater action is picking up for these aggressive little buggers as well. We have had some pretty good action slinging plastic in the past week. Topwater fishing is absolutely amazing and probably my favorite type of lure to throw. But, you’ve got to get the right motion or you’ll be wasting time. “Walking the dog” action involves a constant zig-zag movement of left, right, left, right, hard enough to activate the rattles but soft enough to keep the bait in the water. It might take a bit of practice to get it just right but it’s well worth it when it’s done properly. My favorite topwater selection would be the spook jr or spook one knocker both in the bone or trout color.

Do yourself a favor and head on over to a great local sports store and talk to Malcom or Eric Cook at Cooks Sportland out on 41 in Venice. They have an amazing selection of baits, fishing supplies and whatever you need for your outdoor activities and have been doing so for the last 50 years. Grab a few of your favorite topwater baits and get to slinging. Like I said, my favorites are the spook one knocker and spook jr. Tell them Capt Jesse sent you and they’ll treat you like they treat everyone else… like family! You can find them at 4419 Tamiami Trl S, Venice FL (941) 493-0025.

Snook, trout, and reds have spread themselves all around the flats and mangrove islands so keep an eye out for them because there are some biiiiggg snook out there. One thing you’ve got to remember about snook is they are very smart and have very distinct eating habits. The way I can best describe this cunning opposition is to compare them to cats. You can put his favorite food in front of him and if he’s not hungry he’ll turn his nose up and walk away. But on the other hand, if the conditions are right they’ll crush that bait like it was his worst enemy and he stole his woman. Recently, we’ve been catching them by soaking cut bait in the potholes and along mangrove shorelines. Chumming with live bait works if you can find the numbers needed this time of year.

Here are a few more items I think are just as important as choosing what bait or place to fish.  How about eye wear or sun protection. Now if you’ve visited the dermatologist in your lifetime then you know they’d have us become nocturnal, avoiding the sun as best as possible. But, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to apply sunscreen so liberally that you look like a walking ghost.  I’ve had folks onboard that caked so much sunscreen on throughout the trip I was nauseous at days end. Not to mention all of my gear, seats, tower and bait was coated with it as well. I have one small spray bottle of good quality name brand 100 spf non-greasy sun screen I use for my nose and face…that’s it. So having said that, the next best thing in my sun defense arsenal is my eyewear and sun protective clothing. I’ve used many different protective eye wear and I’ll be honest with you, not much difference between them all except for this new company I’ve been using lately. Salt Life optics… I’ve had the same pair since last summer and for someone like me to have a pair that long is really saying something. Now granted, they do get “weathered” but it’s the lenses that have captivated me. Salt Life sport optics with Zeiss lenses are another product that taken care of will last you quite a while.  Regarding apparel, another new line that I recommend is the HUK performance fishing apparel, known as HUK gear (pronounced hook). It’s a really cool line of performance gear that I’m sure you’ve seen us wearing in some of our pictures. Check them out at

If you’re ready to get out and see how Kelly and I do it, give us a call at 941-698-0323. You may also find us on Facebook, Instagram or our web page Well folks, you know the deal…gotta get on out and get my FIX on! So … tight lines and y’all stay safe!!


Capt. Jesse McDowall
Florida Inshore Xtream Charter services