Wow! What an unusual winter! Mild conditions are allowing boaters and fishermen more opportunities to be on the water! Seatrout numbers are rebounding! In recent days there been a couple reports of nice catches of seatrout on live shrimp! Redfish catches have been scattered with an isolated big catch or two. Redfish during the winter will come up on the flats.
Redfish are often very skittish due in large part to dolphins. Lots of small bait fish are no longer present. This is part of the cycle of life on the coast. As conditions warm up the marshes, creeks and rivers will once again teem with life. For now life is at slower pace. Water clarity on most days is amazing clear. Couple gin clear water, gentle currents, predation by dolphins, noises from boats and it becomes more apparent why catching wintertime reds requires as much luck as skill. One fisherman reporting a big catch said one boat in the vicinity and the bite would have been blown. This sounds a little over dramatic but its not. Whatever the distance you think is appropriate between boats allow about three times that amount. Lots of time instead of using a push pole or trolling the best strategy is often the simplest, “just stay put”. If fish don’t come through chalk it up to the luck of the day. Then it might be best to fish for seatrout , sheepshead or whiting.
Believe it or not there are some whiting running! Seems early but there are a few whiting showing up in the rivers and along the sandbars. The bite so far is not fast and furious but there is a bite.
Sheepshead will move from inshore to offshore during the winter. The inshore sheepshead appears to have slackened. Those places closest to ocean are the best.
Offshore structures are holding so many sea bass that getting a sheepshead to bite is difficult. That said, there have been several nice catches of offshore sheepshead! Remember for now the sea bass season is closed.
This will sound trite every year is a little different this year is no exception. Enjoy the mild conditions and get on the water!
Capt. Jack McGowan , Coastal River Charters