January 8, 2016 – January 14, 2016
It’s more back and forth weather conditions. The cool week turned warm for a couple days but will dip and hold a temperature range of 65 – 55 by late week. That will chill the water down a bit……moving it from the low seventies to the mid sixties. Don’t think that will be enough to trigger a turn on of traditional winter fishing but at least it looks like it will be consistent. There is more periods of rain during the week, so keep a watch on your on-line weather before you start the engine. The tides are passing through a new moon period and will be stronger than normal. Look for a stronger morning incoming than an afternoon ebb tide. Winds all week are classified as moderate to strong with variable direction. Waters should stay reasonably clean but don’t bet on it.
Still haven’t triggered the mega sheepshead move inshore. Have some 12″ (barely) spawners showing but very few. Most of the sheepshead action is sub-harvest size. Conditions forecast for this week looks like nothing is going to much change. You’ll get lots of action but not a lot of sheepies in the box. Better chance is on mangrove that are staying summer active along all the waterway edges tight to the mangrove overhangs on both tides working shrimp with great patience. Small snapper are always there but the big ones seem to hold off until the tides slow which is usually a half hour or so on either side of slack water. But you always have a shot at something else. Redfish are still active but not as numerous as they were in the late fall. The shallow mangrove edges as the incoming tide ends working shrimp under a popper would be the best chance of success. There are still some seatrout around and active feeding early in the deep cuts along the Marco River and connecting waterways. Here you’ll need tipped jigs or touts worked deep in the cuts on morning incoming tide. Bottom line: not the greatest of fishing conditions……but be persistent and patient for results.
Conditions are indefinite, so you’ll want to pay attention to local forecasts this week. Gag grouper are active inshore as the water cools but harvest is closed until July 1st. Fun to catch and carefully release now. Seeing some mackerel, so get that chum bag in the water and begin working those top water jigs right up top avoiding the runners and jacks typically holding below. And always a chance here now to find a migrating kingfish or cobia feeding on the enormous bait schools. Keep a live blue runner on wire in the slick for the kings and ready rod with live threadfin if the curious cobia show up on the surface.
With conditions stable for that deep water trip you’ll want to jump on the sustaining opportunity for red grouper now open in both state and federal waters. Working a live pinfish or cut ladyfish on hard bottom anywhere from seven miles on out should get you great action. With totally open waters, you should have no trouble hooking up with some nice size harvestable red grouper. Good to great table fare and you can harvest two 20″ per day. Deep wrecks for amberjack which are one of the toughest fights in the salt using a live bait worked vertically right into the wreck for the best chance of a hook up.