Of all of the changes that we are seeing with the oncoming winter fishing, the one thing that will make the greatest difference in our efforts is the water clarity. Over most of the year we are basically guessing as to whether or not we are casting to fish or lifeless shoreline but throughout the cold season we will generally be able to see the fish before ever making a cast. This is a two way street however…if we can see them then they can surely see us so a stealthy approach will pay big dividends while fishing over the next few months.
For the most part, over the upcoming months our fishing will consist of redfish, redfish and more redfish as many of the other inshore species that we normally see have either gone deep or migrated south. This is not such a bad thing considering that the redfish action will be world class to say the least as we will primarily be sight casting in crystal clear water using light spinning tackle and fly fishing outfits. Moreover, the reds will be schooled up in tight balls on the flats which makes for some very exciting fishing. These fish will be super sensitive to any disturbances in the water so a slow quiet approach and good bait presentation is extremely important. During this time of the year I downsize everything from my leader to hook size and tend to move my baits at a snails pace to elicit a strike. A super stealthy approach will be just as important as the terminal tackle that we use. In some cases I will lead the redfish schools by better than 20 feet to ensure that the bait does not spook them as it hits the water. Furthermore, fly fishing can be especially effective with spooky redfish because a properly presented fly will generally land softly on the water as most flies are much smaller and lighter that standard casting lures.
Nearshore, Wreck and Bottom Fishing
In my opinion one of the tastiest fish that swims through our waters is the sheepshead. These black and white bait stealers will be staging up over most any hard structure off of the beach and will range in size from one to fifteen pounds. Sheepshead have very hard teeth plus their inner mouths and throats are lined with hard crushers used to scrape barnacles and crush crabs. Considering the armored mouths of these fish, sharp hooks are the key to putting them on the end of the line…basally if you run you hook point across your fingernail and it does not easily catch then the hook is not sharp enough. Outside of sheepshead the local wreck sites should also be holding a good number of black sea bass, flounder, bluefish and the occasional bull redfish. As we move out to the live bottom areas look to catch black sea bass, grouper, snapper, triggerfish, porgies and I have even taken a few cobia over the deeper spots during the winter months. Is it too cold to fish this month? Not really; just look for calm clear days and bending a rod shouldn’t be an issue!