CONDITIONS: Absolutely amazing !!!! What else can you say about this winter weather here. No wonder every “Tom, Dick and Harry” from up north have invaded our domain. Fished today and the water temperature was 76………going back into past years fishing records that temperature would hover between 62 and 64 at this part of the year. For fishing that really effects the winter focus here on big spawning sheepshead as well as colder climate seekers like whiting, silver trout and speckled trout. Obviously what we’re left with are “warm water dwellers” and primary in that grouping is the very active mangrove snapper. Which, bottom line, is not an absolute tragedy , but what we’re missing is catching the mongo big spawning sheepshead. The various forecasts we review have no change in temperature in the forecast for the coming week as well as zero rain. And to top off a mirror image week the full moon will wane and leave us weak but manageable tides both ways. If you’re into walking the beach this is nirvana / if you itching for some good winter fishing……..well let’s wait it out…..maybe March will give us a chill down.
BACKWATER: With the heat we’re getting some hellacious wind periods. And that has added an element of distress in the backwaters with muddy occluded waters that really slows the bite. Anywhere near the Passes these last two days, the good bite stopped cold about one hour after the incoming turn. Fish can’t feed on what they can’t see……simple as that. If you move into the more remote backwaters (Addison Bay / Johnson Bay / Rookery Bay) where that inshore stained water usually dissipates somewhat you have a much better chance for some action. There are nice size mangrove snappers to be had working a simple shrimp laden lindy rig into a gold spot with lots of downed brush that has good current flow. Elsewhere a couple to tips…….up on the edges of Keeywadin Beach on the outgoing tide working a shrimp to the bottom on the outgoing tide will get you some nice size whitings (fun to catch; good chow; no size limit and an out of site number restiction)
NEARSHORE: If there is a place that those mega sheepshead will hold out with the hot backwaters, it’s the first and second lines of reefs just off the condos and hotels along the beach. These are all old reefs that have built up barnacle laden environments that are piscatorially attractive. Big winter fish heading offshore quite likely might investigate here. Worth a chance working a shrimp or cut fiddler bait tight to the bottom on a soft lift. The Walton Reef off Caxambas Pass and the legendary Five Mile Reef always hold promise. In these current conditions, still have a good shot at bottom action on mangrove and lane snapper as well as more the more elusive species like triggerfish and porgies (that are now prevalent hereabouts).
OFFSHORE: Going deep still makes sense…..these inshore winds are driven by temperature differential that are more evident inshore than offshore. So what you see as you transit the Passes may dissipate as you move west. Deep wrecks can be holding some returning pelagics that vamoosed south in the fall and now sense the abnormal warmth. Chance for some kings and cobia even this early. Set up on a wreck that shows bait on the finder and then anchor up and get a chum block going pronto and follow up with a frisky blue runner tethered on a 15th weighted leader and see what develops……..kind of early in the season but this is an unusual season. Other, more evident activity, would be action on yellowtail snapper which are evident here and full time feeders all year. Set a spot and get the block chum is the water pronto. One on flow, bait up with a tad of the same chum and feed it into the slick freelined with the bail open…on a strike let the run do 10-15 seconds and then close the bail and set for a great fight.