One of my favorite things to do in the winter is wading tidal ponds in search of redfish and jumbo speckled trout.

Given the difficulty of getting back into a lot of these areas, it’s rare that the fish get much pressure from casual anglers so they’re usually willing to cooperate. The fish will typically be in schools and you’ll definitely want to ease in quietly and take your time so you don’t push them away or alert them to your presence. A few extra minutes on approach could be the difference between getting into a great bite or just picking off a couple of fish before they leave.

The variety of fish you catch will depend somewhat on the area of the bay you’re targeting. You can find trout and redfish in just about every bayou, but some areas closer to inlets hold a wide variety of fish including trout, redfish, black drum, sheepshead, pompano, flounder, bluefish and ladyfish. I like to use either soft plastic baits or slow suspending twitch baits when fishing these areas but a live shrimp works just fine, too.

Out on the flats, there are still plenty of fish hanging around. Redfish, black drum, sheepshead and flounder are the most common catches in the shallows at the moment but we are still coming across the occasional trout as well. The flats are very shallow and clear right now, so it’s important to downsize all aspects of your gear in order to give yourself the best chance at success. I recommend no heavier than an 8-to-10 pound leader and 1/16-to-1/8 ounce jig. When on the flats (just like in the bayous), you should look for depth changes, transitions between grass and sand, and the outer edges of the flats where there will still be a decent amount of water even on low negative tides. Try to stay as far away from where you think the fish will be but still make accurate casts to them. Once you get into some bites, set your shallow water anchor and go to work on them.

Lastly, you can just about always put together some good bites in the St. Andrews Pass. Right now it’s mostly going to be redfish but, on any given day this time of the year, you may also catch some nice black sea bass, mangrove snapper, flounder, black drum and bluefish. Soon, if not already, you’ll also begin to see sheepshead showing up. A live shrimp is probably the best bait to catch the widest variety of fish but artificial lures are very productive for most of the species found in the pass. A good bottom machine makes a world of difference for finding fish sticking tight to structure and Humminbird’s Mega Imaging is as good as it gets when it comes to downscan/sidescan technology.

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. Tight lines!