This winter season has had some ups and downs as far as sea conditions are concerned. The fronts come through like freight trains, and not many anglers want to brave the elements. But don’t cover your boat or rack your rods and reels because there can be some sensational fishing in January.
My favorite inshore action is redfish. Cold weather seems to congregate these fish in large numbers around dock structures, on the beaches and in the channels. When I was a kid, many years ago, the redfish had a different name. It was referred to as the channel bass because it was caught at the edges of deep waterways where channels directed moving tidal water. One of the best places to fish for large reds is the East Pass between Dog Island and St. George. Find a drop off on a falling tide and bounce your bait along the bottom. Jigs tipped with shrimp or even a chunk of Mullet fished on a dropper rig will do. It is not unusual to hookup a 30 pound bull, so hang on.
Another solid winter fishing option is flounder. They school this time of year and will hang around structure both inshore and offshore. A bull, or tiger, minnow sent down on a dropper rig can result in a big hit. Using a jig tipped with shrimp will also bring them to the hook. The dropper rig for these fish is a good rigging method for the winter. It is a simple rig just using an egg sinker, mono leader and a 2/0 or larger hook. Connect the leader material to your standing line then pass the leader through the hole in the sinker so it rides along from the connection to the hook you will be using…simple, yet effective. This rig works in any season but seems to be better in the winter due to the fact that these fish like to stay deep due to the cold.
Don’t forget our winter standby fish the grunt and the black sea bass. As the water cools the male black bass go through a physical change growing a large hump on their heads with vivid blue stripes. This is due to the larger fish coming in from offshore to mate. Whiting and white trout fill out the inshore species but don’t be surprised if you hookup something you are not expecting.
Good luck out there and be safe.
CAPT. CHESTER REESE
Natural World Charters