Happy New Year to everyone! 2010 is hard to believe, seems like we were just contemplating the seriousness of Y2K. You blink your eyes and a decade has gone by. 2009 presented challenges, but spending 254 days on the water and racking up over 160 charters with clients from all over the globe will make you forget about the daily doldrums of life. So as we roll into another year, we are smack dab in the middle of winter fishing on the coastal waters of Central Florida. Cold fronts are stacked up every week, the bait run is over, and the fish have settled into the preferred hiding spots for the winter. The beauty of fishing in Florida is there is no slow time, we just adapt to the circumstances and find fish. January and February, while they can be cold, provide the best opportunities to catch sheer numbers of fish. It’s not uncommon to have 20-30-40-50+ fish days during the next two months. Throw in the fact that the water is crystal clear, it’s without a doubt the best time of the year for sight casting. If you can manage the cold and breezy days, it’s a great time to get, and keep, a rod bent. Redfish, speckled trout, and snook are and will be the primary targets during the next two months.
Redfish will be the general targets in Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River Lagoon. Higher water levels have kept the famed massive schools of redfish from forming yet. Smaller schools of 20-50 fish, however, are scattered all over the flats. Colder water temps have most redfish in sand spots, sloughs, and sandy swaths near shorelines. On warming periods these fish are then scattering back out onto open grass. My light tackle anglers are connecting on DOA shrimp, spoons, and the occasional soft plastic jerkbait. While those are the choices for artificials, we have been piling up big numbers using live finger mullet and the occasional live shrimp. Fly anglers have posted impressive catch numbers lately throwing my versions of the Borksi shrimp and small EP minnows. A few schools of GIANT redfish have popped back up in each the Mosquito Lagoon and the North IRL. Clear skies and light winds are a must for trying them in the winter months. Use live jumbo shrimp or live mullet for the best chance at catching these 15-40lb bruisers. Farther north in New Smyrna Beach and the Ponce Inlet backwaters, redfish have taken up residence for the winter in deep holes. I find these fish by marking them on sonar. Peg a live shrimp on a jighead or bucktail and throw it up current and let it roll back throw the hole on the bottom. Where there’s one, there’s many, and there are generally some black drum there too.
Speckled Trout fishing is the best of the year for sight casting world class trout over 10lbs in Mosquito Lagoon. Colder weather brings these fish up from the depths and into the shallows in search of a place to warm up. From now through the spring it’s not uncommon to spot several trout each day over 10lbs, however they can be lethargic with the colder water temps. Want a challenge, try sight casting one of them with a lure or fly...it’s harder than a permit on lure or fly. Or sit back, toss out a mullet and wait for them to smack a live bait. If you want to take you chances sight casting, a swimbait, soft plastic jerk shad, or a DOA shrimp is a good choice. A EP minnow or bendback are great flies to throw at fish when you spot them laid up in the sand. We connected with a giant gator trout approaching 12lbs earlier this week when the water was it’s coldest, she ate a live mullet.
Not many people play with Snook during the winter and cold water. I’ve spent some time lately checking my usual winter spots and marked a ton of fish stacked up in deep holes. During the afternoon these fish are coming up to the surface to lay up in the sunshine and warm up. Snook hate cold weather, too cold and the will start dying. These fish are going to be highly selective and lethargic, we’ll throw many perfect casts and watch them sink back down deep. But when they turn on, we’ll hook a bunch of them for a 1-2 hours, with several in the 10lb range. It’s a patience game for winter time snook fishing, but there’s generally nobody around and we have them to ourself. When we want to fish them in the holes, a free lined live shrimp is the ticket. Just let the shrimp swim and wait for the to pick him off.
While not as glamourous as the three prized gamefish mentioned above, this can also be a good time to catch awesome numbers of fish in the tidal areas around Ponce Inlet. Bluefish and Jack Crevalle are everywhere. Most of the bluefish are still on the small size, 15-20” that are eating anything that looks edible. Jack crevalle are around the docks and and backwater creeks also eating anything that looks good. If you aren’t interested in sight casting and just want a day catching as many fish as possible, these two will keep you entertained all day long and with a constant bent rod.
I have some dates remaining for January and many dates in February are already booked. Short notice trips are available if I have the date open. Give me a call call now to reserve/book a date. Read my fishing charter page to view the top reasons why you should book your trip with me today. I look forward to fishing with you soon…386-212-4931.