Hello anglers and Happy New Year! Panama City and St. Andrews bay water temperatures should be approaching the 50’s. Winter water temperature and tide patterns can be difficult this time of year. As cold fronts move through our area almost weekly, I only target inshore shallow water species when the time is right.
BAY: Every seasoned angler in north Florida knows how tough inshore fishing can be directly after a cold front passes. The water temperatures drop, the wind blows, and fishing and navigation can both become a challenge. Planning ahead will always help your situation. Most times, when a cold front passes through, conditions are very tough for one to two days. Things will then begin to stabilize until the next front approaches; this is your window for better fishing as well as calm conditions. Many trout and redfish will be caught this month in bayous and creek mouths. If you are lucky enough to get a warm day and a moving tide, the flats will also produce many fish. Finger mullet and live shrimp will be great baits this month. Fish some high and some low to figure out what’s working that day. Don’t forget to work deeper structure in the bay when it’s cold. Lots of fish will be lurking around those areas where water temperatures are more consistent. Live shrimp and crab variations fished on the bottom will be the ticket.
GULF: Lots of fish will be caught on those inshore reefs. Most will hold snapper varieties, trigger fish, grouper, flounder and several others. Mix up your baits and applications to increase your chances. I rig big and small for these reefs, and drop large live baits and small live and cut baits to broaden my potential species. Keep hook, leader and gear sizes specific to bait size.
SURF: There most likely won’t be much going on at surface level in January. I would focus on bottom dwellers. You can’t beat live shrimp or small crabs for those redfish, whiting, and a few others cruising the beach. Fresh cut baits will yield a few sharks as well.
Thanks for reading and fish on!
CAPT. JASON SHINGLER
Adrenaline On H20
Panama City, FL