Happy New Year! I hope this year blesses you with good fishing, great friends and unforgettable memories.
Recent cold fronts have fish on the move. In the backwaters, look for groups of speckled trout up in bayous and on the outside edges of flats where there is a little more water. You can target them with an assortment of soft plastic lures but, if the fish are a little slow to feed, then a slow suspending twitch bait can be a deadly option. Just remember that when the water is cold, the fish will be a little more lethargic and you’ll have to slow your presentation way down. Also keep in mind that trout season will close at the end of this month and remain closed for the entire month of February.
On the flats, there are still plenty of redfish to target. Even on the coldest of days, you can still head out around mid-morning and find some redfish tailing in the shallows or crawling along the shoreline on negative tides. These fish can be difficult to reach and it can be a challenge to get them to eat, especially in crystal clear water like we have right now. It's a good idea to downsize all aspects of your gear and take your time easing up to the fish. If the fish are cruising, then give them a good lead on your cast so you don’t spook them before you get a good shot. Small gold spoons, plugs and soft plastics account for the bulk of my winter redfish catches.
If I want to catch a big redfish right now, I’ll probably go to a spot with deeper, moving water and structure. The St. Andrews Pass is a great place to catch redfish and other species this time of the year. Since depth, current and structure are involved, using artificial baits can be a little tricky because most of the fish are pinned down very close to the rocks and you’ll need to get your lure down to them. You can do this by drifting heavy jigs or by anchoring on a spot, casting your lure up-current and allowing it to naturally drift through the strike zone.
Be prepared to lose a few jigs and don’t get frustrated when you do. Try to use a countdown method to get as close to the rocks as you can without getting hung up. Live shrimp on a Carolina rig is a simple set up and gives you a chance to catch the widest variety of species. Common catches right now include sheepshead, mangrove snapper, black sea bass, redfish, black drum, pompano, bluefish and a few others. I try to use the lightest tackle that conditions will allow. A medium-light 7’ rod and 3500-sized reel with 15 pound braided line will handle 90% of the fish you’ll encounter. Your lead size will depend on the speed of the current and water depth but, again, go with as light a weight as possible to get the bait down.
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!