CONDITIONS: As we slide into this second weekend of the New Year and it gets a tad warmer, don’t be dissuaded with the token weather respite…..we have more cold and wind headed our way post weekend that will chill us back down and slow the lunge to the water by our anglers. Weekend will be pleasant then cold temperatures and riled water forecast for three days. As you probably guessed the steady dose of cold has plummeted the water temp. At early morning a couple of days back, we recorded a water temp that varied between 58 and 60. That’s in contrast a couple weeks back when we were in the balmy high 60’s that stretched to just over 70. Winds will be an issue also as we chill down post weekend……look for NE winds in the teens with gusts well into the 20’s. The tides are heading to a new moon late week and have moderately strong morning incoming and a weak early afternoon outgoing.
BACKWATER: We talked last week about the possibility that those 50 degree water temperatures could trigger the spawning migration of the mature sheepshead…….well, sorry to say that didn’t happen. On two trips this past week, it was the same old, same old aggressive sheepshead runts. Good way to empty your bait well but not much heading to the table. But that’s fishing………we did see some nice take home spec trout up along the Keeywadin docks and the edges of Sea Oat island on the eastern edges of Hurricane Pass. They fell for touts tipped with shrimp and worked in the 4-6’ bottom creases where they is some remaining seagrass bottom. And while trying some of those deeper depressions for sheepshead we did latch on to a couple smaller black drum that jumped on the cut shrimp intended for the absentee sheepshead. Your other cold water opportunity will be on silver trout and whiting…….just off the beaches where there is good water flow….. the outgoing tide seems to top the incoming for action on these two specie
NEARSHORE: Watch the wind early week, it will kick up some strenuous sea conditions. Morning incoming late week should be ideal for set up at the Walton Reef just off Caxambas working the bottom for (hopefully) sheepshead of size not ready to take the plunge inshore just yet. This reef LARGE and holds all kinds of bait which in turn draw your targets…..lane and mangrove snapper / sheepshead (again, hopefully) gag grouper (live bait worked 10-15’ above the bottom structure as well as triggerfish, trout and an occasional whiting and sea trout. The morning incoming tide will be the stronger of the two and that should line up with fairly reasonable sea conditions. Don’t neglect those large reefs off the Marriott that can hold action even in poor conditions.
OFFSHORE: Ditto on keeping an eye out on developing conditions early week. Need a fairly long run (20+ miles) due west and honing in on hard bottom patches for potential red grouper action. And you may need to inch a little further west to get sustained big grouper action. For reds, the technique is to soak a live pinfish or cut ladyfish tight to the bottom outcroppings on a tidal propelled drift. Keep the drag tight to prevent the red from nailing your bait and then heading back into their lair and cut you off. Closer in wrecks and some reefs for nice size yellowtail snapper that will school up in a nicely maintained chum effort. Slip a tad of the chum on a #6 small hook and freeline the offering right into the slick. Yellowtail hit like a ton of bricks and run before swallowing the bait. So keep the bail open for 15-20 seconds then flip it down and hang on.