Well winter kind of poked it’s head out a few times with some cold fronts here and there through December and January, and water temps dipped a bit, but eventually warmed back up…but that has changed the last couple weeks. Now we are in the middle of our Florida winter, and fish are acting like it, as well as bait. Starting with the redfish, the bite is tough right now for these spotted tail beauties…BUT I know how to get them! The fish are here, but in the crystal clear water, and low tides, they are tough to get a bait in front of. Once we locate some fish being stealth is key, and getting a long cast out in front of the fish is paramount. Then we wait them out…and hang on for dear life as they double the rod over and take off screaming! Here is a pic of a big ole 33″ 12lb redfish caught by John who was in visiting from Canada. We used cut bait on 7’6″ MF Tsunami Airwave Coastal, with a Penn Conflict 3000 reel full of 15lb PowerPro and 20 lb flourocarbon leader with a 1/0 circle hook.
Trout fishing has remained pretty steady right now. Drop offs and 3′-6′ spotted bottom are holding the schoolie slot fish, and the shallow water 2′ potholes are holding the big gator trout. Shrimp and jigs have been doing the trick for these fish, but I am not shy about throwing whitebait at them if we have it. The trout are quite tolerant of the cold and still tend to eat pretty good on the chilly days. I have found that a little cloud cover helps some of the bigger fish to feel comfortable and eat. Here is Brianna with her big ole 24″ gator trout caught on a live whitebait in a couple feet of water!
Rounding out the bite right now are the sheepshead, black drum, flounder, smaller redfish, and even a few snook still willing to eat. These fish are all holding on docks, deep hard bottom holes. and near oyster beds. Using shrimp with a split shot up about a ft on the leader, with the tail pinched off has been working like a charm. This time of year some of the most consistent fishing is around residential docks that have some depth and hold warmth in the touch deeper water. As well bridges and rock piles can be equally as productive if conditions allow you to anchor and fish them properly. Here is a great customer of mine Bill with his biggest snook to date that we got to eat on a pretty chilly day using the same Tsunami Airwave Coastal, and Penn Conflict 3000 setup as above!
It looks like we have at least another couple of weeks of chilly weather ahead of us, but spring is just around the corner, the redfish and snook will remember what they were missing and start eating every whitebait in sight, and 75-80 degree days will be upon us! Book your trip now to get in on the springtime action…come March it will be go time!
Capt Greg Doherty