Wintery days have limited fishing opportunities. When the weather has allowed fishermen have caught redfish, stripers, sheepshead and seatrout. The winter time live baits are mud minnows, finger mullet, fiddler crabs and pogies. In cold water a redfish or seatrout bite on live bait is typically a very slow soft bait. The bite on a plastic is a little more aggressive. Days with some cloud coverage are typically the best. When the skies are completely overcast and water is clear it can be difficult to see more than a feet away from your boat. Overcast skies and clear water can make the surface of the water like a mirror. A question fishermen can ask themselves is how many redfish have they failed to see. Likely given those conditions there been redfish that just were not seen.
Lots of large redfish are covered with sea lice. These sea lice are a small creature that shows up during the winter. These little creatures indicate redfish moving in from deeper water onto the flats. These creatures are thought to be harmless nonetheless you might experience small blisters if your hands come into contact with them. The prevailing thought is when redfish are covered with sea lice these are “new fish” coming into from deeper recesses in the sounds or ocean. Seeing redfish covered with sea lice could be a good thing much like ducks pushed in by a cold front One fishermen said its all about the bait. Redfish are coming up on the flats are looking for bait. When you find an area with lots of pogies or mullet its likely you’ll find some nice reds! When pogie are flicking on top of the water likely cow nose rays are under them. Popping the head off the small pogie and fishing it on a jig on the bottom can be productive way to catch some dandy reds!
During the winter ideal colors and patterns for redfish are those that imitate a pogie or mullet. Other effective colors are gold, copper, new penny, arkansan shiner and a red/gold shiner.
Despite the challenges of winter time fishing can be fun and rewarding! Chris Weber and I fished some of flies in recent days experiencing nice schools of redfish! Chris is of the best commercial fly tiers of both warm warm and salt water flies. Some of my favorites are Chris’s carolina critter, rattle shrimp and crystal minnow flies. Winter time is an awesome time to fly fish for stripers as well!
Keep what you plan to eat and release the rest! Lastly support your CCA Chapter by becoming a member.
Capt. Jack McGowan