The beginning of the new year also brings about the beginning of the coldest time of year here in Central Florida. While last year had very little cold weather, there is no telling what this year will bring. As the northern cold fronts pass through the area the temperatures drop, and the wind blows out of the northwest. With the massive loss of grass flats, we have experienced over the last few years, even the slightest wind churns up the bottom and makes many areas look like a mud puddle. This means the chances for sight fishing are severely diminished. Blind casting or fishing with baits will be a much better option. With a lot fewer baitfish in the water, anglers can now begin to use shrimp for bait without having the pinfish pick them apart within seconds. Chunks of mullet are the second most popular bait. A 4/0 circle hook with a small sliding weight works well. Target islands, sandbars, and the edges of grass flats.
On days when the wind is not blowing too hard, you should be able to find some of the clearest water of the year. Shallow clear grass flats allow sight fishing for redfish, big seatrout, and black drum. Redfish will eat nearly anything, but my favorite is the 3” CAL Tail on a jig head. You can adjust the weight of the jig depending on the water depth and wind speed. Use the lightest one that will work. Color choice is far less important than casting speed and accuracy. Look for the redfish and drum to both be tailing with the noses in the bottom while the trout will be lying still in the while sand patches. The redfish and drum are much easier to sight fish than the large trout. If you find that you are spooking trout, slow down and begin working the area with long, blind casts using a weedless soft plastic jerkbait.