The inshore fishing is great this time of year… redfish are schooled up and it’s time to go sight-fishing! We’ve had another wet start to 2015 just like last winter with quite a few fronts passing through dumping more rain than we typically get. That can cause the water to be murkier but as long as it stays fairly cool there will be some good areas with clear, sightfishable conditions. The redfish will be schooling up big time in the clear, cold water. Not only will the redfish be schooled up but the black drum, sheepshead, and trout will be as well.
When trying to locate the schooled up reds start on the lower tide stages (a negative low tide is even better) as it tends to get the reds more grouped together. Flats and creeks with an abundance of oyster bars and dark mud are great places to look. Something else I’ve noticed over the years is that redfish will tend to hang out in areas where the small mullet are this time of year. There’s not a ton of baitfish around right now but if you find them you’ll most likely find the reds as well.
Another area to look for schooled up reds is in the back of some of the bigger creeks off the ICW. Just about all the creeks from Palm Valley to Mantanzas inlet will hold a good amount of reds this time of year. If you have a kayak or a paddle board there are some great opportunities to get into the back of some of the creeks that aren’t accessible by boat at low tide. The creeks South of SR 206 are loaded with big reds on those low tides… just be careful not to get stuck. I almost exclusively toss artificial baits at the reds this time of year.
My go to setup is a paddle tail by Slayer Inc. rigged on an 1/8oz Slayer Inc. jighead. It just seems to be the right size and is small enough to not spook the fish when casted near them. It’s nice to toss the paddle tails in a lighter color this time of year because you are able to clearly see where your lure is in the water in relation to the fish which makes sight-fishing that much easier.
If targeting drum or trout fish the deeper holes in the creeks and the ICW. There will be a lot of nice slot sized drum around but the trout have been a little on the smaller side. The drum will readily eat fresh dead shrimp or crab on the bottom while the trout will like some more lively. My go to setups for trout right now are a freelined live shrimp or a paddle tail like mentioned above. Whether you’re fishing for drum or trout if you find one you’re probably in the right spot to catch some more as they too tend to school in big numbers this month.
The sheepshead bite has been good the past few months and should continue to go strong. The old faithful fiddler crab on a fishfinder rig will account for quite a few catches but one less popular, but effective way to catch the real monster “heads” is to use a halved or quartered blue crab, especially at our inlet rocks. …Tight Lines!
Capt. Tommy Derringer