We are in what many anglers like to call the "Dead Sea of Winter". Many anglers believe that fish have left the feedings areas of the fall, and have moved
to new "over wintering" bodies of water. This may be the case sometimes, but more than likely fish are still around in your favorite honey holes, and
it's a matter of changing up your fishing styles.
INSHORE: Speckled Trout are still available in all of our ICW waters and connecting creeks. Right now, the bite really is all about throwing a live
mud minnow and hitting a sluggish fish in the face. When fishing live mud minnows, I always like to try to get away with as light a weight as possible,
so that little minnow has some freedom and space to cover the lower water column freely. I also like to fish my weights (one, maybe two) small
split shot sinkers about 3-4 feet away from my minnow. This tactic will also produce bites from chilly water Drum in your Trout grounds. Black
Drum have been relating to docks and pilings all along the ICW, as well as marshes. The key is to NOT fish with a two hook bottom rig at this time
of the year. Get a small hook, and don't use any weight at all (that's right, no sinker) and pitch it next to a dock piling and wait for the line
to slowly move. These fish are swimming along the bottom with their body and noses on the warm mud bottoms, and can at times be too lazy to even
rise up and eat a shrimp on a two hook bottom rig. If you are surf fishing, obviously the two hook bottom rig is really your only choice (due to
wave turbidity). There are still some lone ranging "Big Girl" Trout along the Rock Jetties on our beaches. This truly is a right at dusk or else
after dark bite. Live minnows on a small split shot, or else slow rolling a small Storm Swimshad right next to the rocks can sometimes get these
stubborn late winter giants to eat.
OFFSHORE/NEARSHORE: There have been a few stray BFT (Bluefin Tuna) cruising around, but that bite is obviously tapering off. If you want to try, get
some monster JAGS and troll away. Use the largest Ballyhoo out of your pack. There are undoubtedly some Blackfin and Wahoo out there, it's just
a matter of covering good water and finding a bait source. If you go, make sure to be ready for Blackfin if you encounter them, meaning have plenty
of small Ballyhoo and mini chugger head presentations prepped in case you hit a school of "Blackies". Fish with a planer at all times for the "Who-Daddies".
It's really a matter of just getting out and dialing in a good temp break and baits-source. Be prepared to work for your bites, but as they say,
the harder you work, the better the gratification.
Remember, fish don't eat as much in the winter as they do in the summer, so fish natural, and fish slower.
Tight Lines from Freeman's Bait & Tackle