Yep, it’s January, but fishing can still be great this time of year. Temps in the Gulf have been hovering around the low 60s mark for most of the winter, which is very out of the ordinary. Either way, it’s been a tough winter for most when it comes to really getting on a consistent bite. I believe that we’ll have a few more good cold fronts come through this month, but nothing like we’re used to this time of year, so plan on getting your boat and tackle ready earlier, the fishing will get better very soon!
Even with the amount of rain we’ve had that’s filled our bays with freshwater, the inshore bite has continued to be great. This time of year I like fishing the bayous and creek mouths. The trout and redfish tend to like the darker, muddier-type bottom where it stays warm. Work docks throughout the bayous throwing soft plastics. Once you get a bite or catch a fish or two, there’s usually more there, so hang tight. If you can find live shrimp, they’ll work great. Around our bridge/pass, we’re starting to see the sheepshead bite pick up quite a bit. The tide doesn’t matter too much, but if you can be there on a slack tide, it’s much easier to hold up and fish close to the pilings. Remember one thing when it comes to sheepshead fishing: if you think you feel a bite, it’s probably too late. Use shrimp or crabs with a smaller #1 straight hook on a drop rig. Set the hook and try them out and you’ll be more successful with hook up ratio.
January might be a slow month for keeping offshore fish, but it’s still a great month for fishing. Snapper and gag grouper seasons are closed so your best bet to put some fish in the box is red grouper, black snapper, and mingo snapper. This bite has been great as of late and should continue to be good all month long. With this warm weather we’ve had, it has kept a ton of bait in our area and closer inshore, which has kept the fishing good. There have been a lot of jacks stacked up on big steel structure. Any barge, ship, things of that nature are a great place to start. There’s not much that’s more fun than pulling on a big jack. The big bull mingos have been out on the edge pretty thick. All the inshore wrecks are pretty stacked up with ruby lips, squirrel fish, rock fish and more. I also use January as my “research” month. If you can catch a pretty day with calm seas, grab a couple friends and go riding around in the Gulf. You’ll be amazed at what kind of bottom and wreckage you can find within 15 miles from the pass. You can really build up your spots in your book and be ready for the spring. Make sure, if you do this, bring a couple rods with you, don’t get caught off guard!
CAPT. PETER WRIGHT, JR.
The Ships Chandler
646 E. Hwy 98
Destin, FL 32541