Hernando County Report By Capt. Joel Gant

Winter Fishing

Ok, for you die hard anglers that don’t mind the cold, there is still some good fishing to be had–even in this colder time of year. You may have to change your tactics a little. One of the best is to slow down your presentation. When you think you have, slow it down some more. Just think of it this way. With the cold-water temperatures, fish are just like us. They get cold and don’t want to move around much or expend much energy. Kind of like on a cold Sunday, when you’re nice and comfortable in your recliner watching football and the wife walks by and you ask her “sweetheart, could you get me a snack.” It’s the same with fish. They like to hang by their favorite rock until a nice snack drifts by and they grab it. In both situations, very little energy is used. Now, with this scientific theory in mind, think of some of the situations you fish. If you’re bouncing a jig along the bottom, pause a little longer between twitches and slow the retrieve on top water or subsurface lures and see if this produces a few more bites. You will also notice the bite may be lighter. If you feel heaviness or a small tug, pause for a second and then set the hook. When in doubt, set the hook.

Fishing in January was great. If we have some warmer weather in February, it should continue. The gag grouper bite was really good the two weeks before the closure. The bait we used was cut threadfin on a 7/0 circle hook with a 2 to 4-ounce lead weight. Even though the season is closed, catching and releasing these hard fighting fish is a blast! Also, try trolling plugs for grouper–this can be a very productive

For those that fish from shore, this is a great time for you. In our area, there are plenty of places to fish including Bayport Pier, Jenkins Creek Pier and park, Aripeka’s bridges, seawalls and miles of creek channels along the roads. All these places can produce a lot of different fish from redfish, trout, snook, sheepshead and black drum.

Get out there on the water and make some memories with friends and family!