Seasonal weather has brought changes to our fishery and savvy anglers will need to make strategic adjustments to ensure success.
Recent heavy rains have turned the pristine, emerald green waters in the bays and flats to a dingy, tannic brown. That limits sight fishing to very shallow water – typically on low, negative tides – when you can spot redfish tails breaching the surface as they root around on the bottom in search of crabs, shrimp and eels. Since the water is a little on the “dirty” side, I recommend using a shad tail or swimbait style of lure that creates a decent thump on the retrieve. When the water isn’t clear, these lures cause vibrations that help fish locate it.
While the redfish are still thriving on the flats, specked trout have been making their way to the mouths of nearby bayous where the slightly deeper water offers more regulated temperatures and plenty of prey. Daily changes in conditions will have fish navigating back and forth between the flats and the bayou. On warm days you will see big fish sunning in the shallows on mud and sand banks, while cold days tend to push the fish into slightly deeper water. I typically target the bigger fish with suspending twitch baits although soft plastics will usually produce more bites overall.
Flounder season opened back up at the beginning of the month and I’ve heard a few sporadic reports of fish still being caught in the St. Andrews Pass. The pass has the best congregations of fish; however, I prefer to catch flounder in shallower water as a fish of opportunity rather than a target species. When sight fishing areas with lots of spotty bottom or transitions from grass to sand, I work the edges of those transitions or spot cast to potholes where flounder typically like to lay up. Areas closer to the gulf that have a lot of turtle grass have been the most consistent. Soft plastics, hair jigs, and live baits are all effective offerings to entice a flounder bite.
Sheepshead are on the move throughout the flats, slowly working their way toward the pass where they will gather and spawn in the spring. Nearly every flat that I have cruised down lately has held plenty of sheepshead. Distinctive for their dark vertical stripes and human-like teeth, sheepshead are one of the most challenging fish I’ve ever tried to sight fish on the flats. Quite often, they won’t even let you cast a flat lined live shrimp in close without them blowing out. If you like a challenge and an opportunity to hone your angling skills on a worthy adversary, try small hooks, light leader, and a long, long cast. Other requirements for success are patience and a heavy dose of persistence. Shrimp and small crabs are the way to go but occasionally they will bite a jig.
If you have questions about what's biting, how to catch them or would like to book a trip of your own, then give me a call or shoot me an email. Tight lines!