As the season transitions from fall to winter, several things begin to happen. First, you will notice pinfish and most other baitfish disappearing from the shallow grass flats. Mullet and bull minnows are the exceptions and will remain on and around the flats throughout the winter. Other baitfish move into deeper water in bayous or near structure out in the middle of the bay.
Just as the forage fish begin to move along with cooler temperatures, speckled trout will also cruise around in the bays in search of food and warmer water. The water temperature has not yet dropped low enough for the trout to hunker down in deeper water but we are only a few good cold fronts away from that being the case. For the time being, the trout are still quite comfortable in shallow water – especially in areas where the bait is stacking up in preparation to move out. I talk about fishing around points a lot and that is because their varying current, depth and bottom composition make them perfect for consistently holding fish. Low negative tides during this time of the year mean that lightly weighted jigs, plastic shrimp or small suspending twitch baits are deadly on the trout.
Redfish are among the most targeted fish in the winter due in large part to the variety of patterns we can use to catch them. They are the epitome of what a coastal fish should be with their aggressive nature, bulldog style of fighting and comfort level in a variety of environments. Redfish can be found in water exceeding 60 feet in depth and water so shallow that they appear to crawl rather than swim. In addition, they thrive in all levels of salinity and can be found in either the Gulf of Mexico or way up in rivers and creeks.
There are large numbers of bull redfish around the bridges and in the pass, stuck tight to the bottom and receptive to big live baits, heavy hair jigs or soft plastics. On the flats, there will be no shortage of slot sized fish schooling up or cruising around. When I can see the fish, I like to throw jigs or weedless-rigged soft plastics baits. If I am just scouting for fish or visibility is low due to cloud cover, then a gold spoon or topwater is the go to bait.
Although most of the flounder have already moved out and bay catches are decreasing, there have been some decent hauls lately on flats near the inlets. Nearly all of these fish have been caught on jigs while targeting potholes and sandbars in search of other species. A few days ago, I actually stopped and fished for flounder after idling up to the flat and seeing five or six swim out from under the boat. That means there are definitely pockets where the fish are still congregated. Most of these fish are in the 15-17 inch range with the bigger fish being up to 20 inches in length.
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.