When the winds are blowing in January, there are still fish to be caught. The water temperature should have dropped enough to bring in the schools of bluefish from the north. Bluefish will be from the beaches to one or two miles offshore. On days that the weather will allow, you can usually find bluefish schools swimming offshore in larger schools. This will allow you to get out and bend some rods.
You can catch bluefish on smaller mullet, pilchards and sardines if you are a live bait fisherman. The faster the bait swims the better the chances of hooking these fish. If you like to fish with artificial bait and lures, the bluefish will hit anything that is shiny and quickly retrieved. It doesn’t matter if you are using top water or sub-surface lures, they will hit them. Bluefish will also hit a silver spoon with a fast retrieve. If you cannot see the bluefish, watch for birds diving and schools of jumping bait, the bluefish will typically be in that area.
Light tackle setups are great for these fish. I would recommend a 4,000-size reel matched with 10- to 15-pound line. I prefer using 10-pound mainline with 20-pound leader and a small barrel swivel. You will want to put a piece of #3 wire up to your hook or lures so you don’t get bit off due to their razor-sharp teeth and attach the wire to the swivel.
Once you catch some bluefish, try to catch some live bait. Many days as the sun comes up, the winds and chop subside, and conditions allow for a run further offshore. Look for the sailfish as they will still be in the area. There will possibly be some mahi mixed in with the sailfish. The best bet to get hooked up will be to troll ballyhoo from 90 feet on out towards the warmer Gulfstream waters and once the rip for the Gulfstream is found (or other rips or mats or floating debris is found) switch over to live bait and start slow trolling. Once you start slow trolling, place a dredge or teaser in front of your baits, this will entice a deeper fish to come to the surface to check out your baits. The offshore bite will be good this time of year when you can get out.