Hernando County By: Capt. Gary Strickland

Happy New Year! 2023 has officially started, which means we have a fresh start and a new year to accomplish all of our fishing goals. Let’s start this year off with some great catches while, also, spending quality time with family and friends. Fishing is great, and it’s even better with the ones we love.

January is a fairly stable month to fish, with most of our inshore fish having already crossed over into their Winter-time habits. The Winter trend will remain until the water temperature warms up enough and becomes stable again in Spring. The water will not be an ideal temperature for a while, so look for all of our inshore fish in generally all the same areas. Find warmer water sources as close to the open bays as possible and you will find fish. Natural springs, creeks, potholes and channels are all good places to find fish this time of year.

Now, the tricky part of this is that these fish move–frequently. If we are on a warmer trend for a few days, these fish will move out of the holes and springs into shallow water to enjoy some sun and bait fish. Redfish and trout love to munch on shrimp and crustaceans during the Winter. Shrimp is my go-to bait through the Winter for almost everything.

We recently got some really nice sheepshead, snook, trout, redfish and black drum all in the same area and all with the same bait–shrimp. Fresh or frozen, shrimp will do the trick. These fish are hungry and do not want to waste a ton of energy to eat. Now, if I am specifically targeting big snook or redfish, I like to freeline large creek chubs. Big snook or redfish will not refuse them. If you are using big creek chubs or shrimp and you are not catching fish, you may not be in the right spots.

Also, remember our negative tides are in full effect. Make sure you keep this in mind, as the water will be very low on certain tides. The water, also, may not be quite as high on the high tides. Boating safety is a priority. Know your tides, your vessel’s draft depth and ability to navigate shallow waters–don’t get stuck in a creek (although most of us have, ha). An important factor to gauge your tides is the wind. Winds out of the North and East will cause the tide to stay out and the charts to be off. Please keep that in mind when planning your boating trips.

As always have fun out there, be safe and catch some good ones!