by Capt. Dave Stephens
Happy New Year fellow anglers, it’s January. Well our first major cold front has made its way into Southwest Florida. The water temps have dropped; cooler waters don’t mean the fish stop eating, it just means you have to approach your day a little different. During these colder days, the majority of our game fish seek out warmer deeper waters. So, what this means is during these cooler days you will have to focus on deeper water for fish. I know our coast isn’t known for deep water, but sometimes a few feet make a big difference. Also, the type of bottom where you’re trying to locate fish can make a big difference. As these cool fronts keeping moving through our area it will have our fish on the move. All those deep points and pot holes that you know about could be gold mines. The one thing you need to do is slow down on your approach. Instead of these places holding snook, chances are they will have trout and sheepshead. As these first fronts pass, grab a few dozen shrimp from your local tackle shop, also don’t forget a pack of jig heads. If you hit a couple spots that just are not holding any fish, don’t give up. This is the time of year that fish are on the move. Your next hole could be loaded. In a month or so, our fish will adjust to the cooler waters and become much easier to pattern. I have also started to see some good sheepshead starting to school up. This is the time of year when these guys are spawning. For the new anglers to our area, don’t confuse these guys with the freshwater species. Actually, the saltwater sheepshead belongs in the porgy family, mainly feeds on a crustacean diet, and is great table fare. Look for these guys around structure, such as docks and rocky seawalls. I recommend using a smaller hook, like a #1. Shrimp is a great bait, but if your local shop has fiddler crabs, they can’t resist them. I also recommend using enough weight to contact the bottom. This time of year is a transition period for our fishery, so it can be a little tough. The main thing you need to remember is to slow down your approach. I also recommend doing some scouting, as this time of year our tides are a lot lower, so it’s a perfect time to go locate some deeper holes. Transition times can be some of the toughest, you just need to put some time in. I promise it will be rewarded.