Well, 2020 sure was a roller coaster of a year and it looks like that trend could continue into the foreseeable future. So maybe it’s a good time to turn off the news and get outside, go fishing, walk on the beach, ride a bike or just take a short trip down the road and make friends with your neighbors. Let’s hope 2021 is full of much love and tight lines!
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 but we are still coming across the occasional pompano and trout as well. With the flats being shallow and clear these days, 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 8-to-10 pound leader and a 1/16-to-1/8 ounce jig. When on the flats (just like in the bayous), you’ll want to look for depth changes, transitions between grass and sand and the outer edges of the flats where there will still be a decent volume of water even on low negative tides. Try to stay as far away from the fish as possible but still make an accurate cast. Once you get into some bites, put your Talon shallow water anchor down and go to work on them.
One of my favorite winter pastimes is sneaking around shallow shoals and over sandbars while working my way back into bayous and holes that are usually loaded with fish this time of the year. Given the difficulty of getting back into a lot of these places, it’s unlikely that they get much pressure from casual anglers so most of these fish are willing to cooperate. These fish are typically going to be schooled up, so you should ease in quietly and take your time so that you don’t push the school away or alert the fish 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 is going to be determined somewhat by the area of the bay that you’re fishing in. You can find trout and redfish in just about any bayou but, in certain areas closer to inlets, there’s a wide variety of species including trout, redfish, black drum, sheepshead, pompano, flounder, bluefish and ladyfish. I like to use either soft plastic baits, slow suspending twitch baits or good old fashioned live shrimp when fishing these areas.
Lastly, you can almost always put together some good bites in the 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 or bluefish. Soon, if not already, you will begin to see sheepshead showing up as well. 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 hanging out 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 about 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. Good luck!