Late Winter Inshore Tips!
Late winter inshore fishing can be a very productive time if you keep a few things in mind during your expedition. The Gulf Coast from Texas all the way down through the southern regions of the Florida panhandle can get really cold from January through late February. Speckled Trout, redfish, and flounder tend to move inland up river basins, creeks and tributaries. There is usually a lot less boat traffic and pressure because of the nasty north winds that predominantly blow during this time of year. Knowing what to look for can be a game-changer during cold winter months.
Fish tend to want to stay close to deeper holes if possible. Deep is relative to what the average depth you are fishing is. If you are in a shallow flat, deep would be 3-4 feet possibly. Most times the outside bends of a creek are deeper than the inside rims. Locating small ditches, trenches and other passages that are in and around shallow water are great spots to fish for traveling fish, especially on the falling tide. Trout and reds tend to seek out areas that have a tendency to warm up faster than the surrounding area. Dark-colored bottoms heat up faster than lighter sand bottoms. Areas close to rock jetties or land catch the radiant heat from the sun and warm quicker. If you find an area with a spring, that is also a great location since the spring's output a constant temperature.
When searching cold water for trout and reds have a partner throw something a little different than what you are throwing until a pattern is determined. Often times it’s not so much the lure as it is the presentation. No doubt though that in extremely cold weather slower is generally better. Look to throw lead head soft plastics and bump the bottom. In extreme cases, you may try tipping the jig with a small piece of shrimp. As the water warms during the day and fish are migrating into shallower water flats try a suspending jerk bait, fluke type bait or even a swimbait.
All in all winter fishing can produce some very nice creels. Make sure you are dressed in layers to stay warm and shed as needed during the day.
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