Cooler temperatures and clear water generally push most of our inshore fish into deeper water and our offshore fish into a feeding frenzy. This time of the year we look for calm clear days to sight fish the flats or to bottom fish the near and offshore wrecks.
As the water temperature drops, redfish will start to school up on crystal clear shallow water mud flats. Flats are areas that have very little bottom contour (flat bottom) over a particular area, and generally offer food and shelter for redfish. During this time it is not uncommon to see schools of 500 or more fish huddled together in a tight area. The main reasons that redfish school up on shallow mud flats in the winter are for protection, warmth, and safety in numbers. During the winter much of the food that dolphins feed on (such as menhaden and mullet) are gone, therefore redfish become a large part of their diet. To keep away from the dolphins redfish will stay in shallow water where the dolphins can’t enter. During midday, mud flats also offer warmth as the sun heats up the dark mud bottom. Finally, by grouping up in a school, redfish have many eyes to look for predators; if one fish sees something out of place it will alert the rest of the school. This is a great time of the year for us to take shots at redfish using both spin and fly fishing gear.
Short days and cooler air drive the water temperature into the low 50s this time of year. Not only does the water become cooler but also crystal clear. As the water cools most fish move into deeper water with the exception of schooling redfish which will huddle together on low tide flats in large numbers. This creates a good opportunity for shallow water sight fishing.
Near and Offshore Wreck Fishing
Some of the best winter time fishing can be done on the wrecks which are located six to twenty miles offshore. On an average day look to catch a variety of fish to include: sheepshead, weakfish, bull redfish, flounder and sea bass. Not only are these fish a lot of fun to catch but also great to eat. Due to the fact that these wrecks are located in open water we generally look for light winds and calm seas to go offshore.