by Capt. Brian Boxx
Happy New Year!
2019, can you believe it? The month of December brought a few chilly cold fronts dropping our water temps into the low 70’s and officially kick starting our winter fishing patterns. If you are not an early riser, then this my friend, is your season to fish. Fish are cold-blooded and will seek to find areas to warm their engines, so sleep in and give the sun time to warm the shallow flats. Apply some science, light colors reflect light and dark absorbs light. Use this knowledge when scouting for Winter Snook. The fish will gravitate to the darker substrates, like shallow mud flats, as they tend to warm faster than sandy spots giving those in the know an exciting sight fishing opportunity.
Our backwater winter species mainly consists of: snook, redfish, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, Jack’s, spotted trout, and black drum. Every one of the fish listed will aggressively take an offering of our local bait stores live shrimp, so make sure to stock up before heading out. Pro Tip: Reduce your live well water flow and place something in the well for the shrimp to cling to. This will keep your shrimp lively and diminish dead loss from exhaustion. Nothing fancy necessary, I use a large chum bag with a brick inside it. Fish the shrimp on a small circle hook with a split shot with or without a small cork. Before I drop a line, I like to start by using Boca Coast dry chum to get the fish fired up. This product has produced solid results consistently and I highly recommend it.
On the artificial side of life, MirrOLure released their skins, MirrOdine, and it is developing a tremendous reputation. The Pilchard pattern is my new go to lure, which cruising snook and redfish on the flats find simply irresistible. My alternate rod is rigged with the new Skip Shad by Live Target to fish the hard to reach areas, deep under docks and mangroves. The flat profile of this soft plastic allows for it to be skipped into the thick of it, giving you a shot at those fish holding tight to cover. The pompano are here in droves for the season and will seek out a shrimp-tipped jig presented via the “Pompano Pump”. Work the sharp drops in the passes and off the beaches for your daily dose of thump.
Our fish stocks took a hard hit from last years red tide event and we are urging anglers to fish for photos not food. Practicing proper fish handling techniques and releasing your catch will help our fishery recover faster. If you would like to help keep our waterways clean, check out the Tamiami Sportsman’s Coalition page on Facebook. This local group organizes cleanup events and offers a great avenue for you to do your part in protecting what is left of our diverse ecosystem. Catch you next month. STAY SALTY MY FRIENDS.