Chill Out

By Joe Sheaffer

When the chill is on, fishing conditions can be a challenge. Colder temperatures have set in, and low water has made it difficult to consistently catch fish. There are ways to work around these conditions. Starting with areas that fish choose during cold spells. Identifying these areas can make all the difference. I like to start with satellite maps along with local area channel maps to find areas (hard structure, bridges, docks, patch reefs, to name a few) around deeper water. With colder temperatures, fish will relate near these areas because they tend to warm a bit quicker. The nature of these structures provide current breaks. This time of year, current is important, but they definitely don’t want to fight the current. Figuring out how the fish will relate along these stretches is important. They will still face towards the current for feeding opportunities. I like to keep my boat into the current working my presentation with the current. Slowing your presentation can be the key, using heavier jigs or weight can help keep your lure in the strike zone longer. Getting hung up in the structure can be annoying but it can be worth it. Sometimes you almost need to hit these fish in the head to get them to bite. Many times, I will pop my jig and let it sit for a while (15-30 sec), then pop it again. I have caught many fish, mostly Snook, Reds, Grouper, Sheepshead to name a few, using this tech. Once you pop (a quick lift off the bottom) your jig and let it sit, feeling an AWESOME thump can be a huge thrill. The key to all this is slowing down. This time of year bites may be few, but they can produce some seriously nice fish. Good luck and keep casting.