Well fellow anglers we made it through another year here in Southwest Florida. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. So far our weather has been great we’ve had a few cool days, but warmed back up quickly. Fortunately this has kept the snook bite going pretty well. Some of the cooler mornings didn’t produce until water temps warmed up. The magic number seems to be around 70 degrees. During the cooler months these warm water fish migrate to areas with deeper water to keep warm. However on cool days with lots of sun they will migrate to shallow areas to warm up. In my experience these fish can be pretty stubborn. I have learned if you can find their hole, you can have success catching them. Its normally not to far away! Like most winters here we will get a few cold fronts stacked up and it will make significant change in the water temps. Luckily for us we have other species of fish that are not effected as much by cooler water. Probably one of the most sought after winter fish is Sea Trout. Some of the best days I’ve had was after some really cool weather. These guys like to bunch up in deep potholes and creeks when the water temps drop. A couple days of warm weather will have them back out on the flats though. Shrimp is my go to bait for winter trout. If I’m fishing areas with a clean bottom, I use shrimp on a chartreuse jig head. In areas that have oysters or grass, I use a popping cork. Another species that will become easier to target during the cooler water temps will be sheep head. This time of year these guys school up to spawn, so larger concentrations can be found. Small crustaceans and mollusks are their main food source, finding structure is a must. Some of the best places are old docks, and rock walls. Deep creeks with hard bottom will also hold good numbers of fish. These guys can be rather difficult to get hooked up on. If you ask 5 different sheep head anglers how to catch them, you will get 5 different ways. My recommendation is to keep it small. I use a #1 hook and 20# fluorocarbon leader. Depending on the current flow, I use just enough weight to make contact with bottom. Shrimp would be my bait of choice, because its easy to get. If you can get some fiddler crabs or fresh sand fleas these work very well. Most people will tell you if you felt the bite, you’ve already missed him. Winter doesn’t mean the fishing stops. It just means you gotta fish different.
You can also follow me on Twitter @ backbayxtremes for daily and weekly updates.
Capt. Dave Stephens
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