Frequent, unseasonably heavy rainfall has plagued us all winter and it shows in the quality of the water in our bays. Away from the gulf, the water clarity is very poor and even the water near the gulf is still very much on the tannic side.
That being said, fish still have to eat. You just have to spend a little extra time working on them to get them to cooperate. I’ve had the most consistent success fishing deeper water where the salinity doesn’t change nearly as fast as it does on the flats or in the shallows. The St. Andrews Pass has been very productive for a variety of fish, including sheepshead, redfish, black drum, pompano and mangrove snapper. To catch the most and widest variety, use live shrimp fished on the bottom. If you just want to target redfish, try soft plastic baits on heavy jig heads fished near the rocks. Other quick-sinking artificial lures will also get strikes.
In the bays, the bull redfish bite has been very good in deep water around structure. Both of the big bridges, as well as several submerged pipelines and rock piles, have yielded some jumbo redfish. Another way to target them is to look for birds feeding at the surface. More often than not, a big ball of baitfish getting pushed to the surface means there are some big fish underneath. Jigs fished slowly near the bottom or just below the bait school are probably the most effective way to get hooked up but you can use crankbaits, trolling plugs and live bait as well.
If you are looking for speckled trout, head for the bayous and creeks. There are some flats around the bay that are deep enough to hold fish even on the lowest winter tides but, with most of the flats dry or extremely shallow, the trout are looking for deeper water. Creek and bayou channels provide the water depth and slightly warmer temperatures that fish are seeking. Look for large congregations of finger mullet and croakers which they use as a food source during winter. Jigs will get lots of bites but a suspending twitch bait is the ticket to big fish.
As always, if you have questions about what’s biting, how to catch them or want to book a trip, give me a call or shoot me an email.