St Augustine

St Augustine January Fishing Report

This time of¬†year,¬†the early bird doesn’t always get the worm.¬†¬†January is one of my favorite months to fish (especially for redfish) and being able to sleep in a little longer than usual can be nice. There’s no need to get on the water super early this month,¬†as the fish will be chewing better after the sun gets up,¬†and the flats start to warm up a bit. A mid-day low tide this time of year is a Northeast Florida angler’s dream come true. Redfish will be schooled up,¬†and low tide is the easiest time to find them. Look for flats with dark colored bottoms,¬†and creeks with an abundance of oyster bars.‚ÄĮI‚Äôm hoping for a dry, cool¬†December,¬†as all the rain we‚Äôve had this year has the water stained a dark reddish color from the tannins. If it does stay fairly dry,¬†and we get some colder air and water temps,¬†the water will¬†start to clear up, giving us the opportunity to do some sight-fishing.¬†As of report time,¬†the water is on its way to be the clearest it‚Äôs been in years,¬†as it‚Äôs been a chilly start to the winter.¬†¬†Being cold is no fun,¬†but it makes for some awesome fishing!¬†Even if it doesn‚Äôt get crystal clear,¬†you can¬†locate schools of redfish¬†by looking for “muds” or small fleeing baitfish and shrimp. Don’t worry if you don’t own a super shallow water skiff, these fish are still accessible. Most decent sized¬†creeks in the area have small “flats” on their banks on extreme winter low tides. Use the trolling motor to work slowly,¬†as far back as possible in the creeks,¬†while eyeing the banks for cruising reds.

One very important piece of equipment for this time of year,¬†and sight-fishing in general,¬†is a good pair of polarized sunglasses. I prefer Costas with a copper or amber colored 580 lens. You’ll be surprised how much of difference a good lens can make. The quicker you can spot the fish,¬†the easier it is to catch ’em. My favorite baits this month are small soft plastics like a¬†Saltwater Assassin¬†paddle tail,¬†or a live shrimp,¬†both paired with an¬†1/8-ounce¬†jighead. The reason I prefer the 1/8 ounce or even a¬†1/16-ounce¬†jig,¬†is they make less splash when cast,¬†and with the clearer water we should have right now.¬†Our reds can get a little spooky. This is also a great time of year to bust out the long (fly) rod. Many a redfish,¬†and even a few sheepshead will fall to small shrimp and crab pattern flies. Being able to see the fish before you cast,¬†makes fly fishing that much more exciting and rewarding.

Slot-sized black drum should be a good bet this month in the deeper creek and ICW holes. Fresh dead shrimp or sometimes even better, a fiddler crab fished on the bottom,¬†will do the trick. Black drum have smallish mouths and tend to be subtle biters,¬†so make sure to wait until you feel the fish swimming away before setting the hook. Speaking of fiddler‚ÄĮcrabs and light biters, the sheepshead bite was great in December,¬†and should continue to be good through the next few months. Target area bridges and pilings with fiddlers, oyster crabs, or small shrimp. If you’re feeling a little more sporty,¬†look for¬†sheepies¬†on the flats feeding on oyster bars. It seems like sometimes every oyster bar you pass this time of year will have a few munching away,¬†just waiting to be caught. Be sure to check out my daily fishing reports, online @¬†¬†and have a safe and Happy New Year!

Capt. Tommy Derringer