Steinhatchee January Fishing Report
“Best Bets for the New Year”
It’s no secret, that January is cold in the Big Bend of Florida. It’s is also no secret that during those cold periods, trout stack up in the Steinhatchee River, seeking relative warmth. And, it is no secret that boats can stack up in the river, like cars on the interstate during rush hour, anywhere around Atlanta. As for best bait, typically quarter ounce jigs of various colors, sloooowly bounced along the bottom, suspending twitch baits, tenderly worked back to the boat. As for the favored color, go to a bait and tackle shop and ask; the one that is working best will most likely be sold out. As for location, a flotilla of boats is a big clue, but be polite and remember, trout will go with the tide, so down current may be the next hot spot.
Remember rough handling a trout, such as using a rag, removes the protective slim that prevents disease. So if you handle undersized fish with gloves, a rag or grab it roughly with dry hands, simply slam the fish on the deck, and kick it in the head before gently releasing it, to relieve it of a slow agonizing death. Furthermore, trout school by size or year class. If you’re catching one short trout after another, move on. You’re killing next years stock.
Using larger baits, or trolling, can partly eliminate catching undersized trout, while upping the chance for a redfish.
I’ve never been one to fish in crowds. So on a blue-bird day, it’s great to run out to hard bottom 25 to 35 feet, and use squid strips or bounce jigs for the abundant and delicious black sea bass. It is great fun for everyone. When its on, and its always on, your bait won’t make the bottom, and a horde of sea bass will follow the one hooked to the surface. Pick your fish—a trick. Stand by someone who is reeling up a sea bass with a jig ready to pitch. Usually, a couple of larger sea bass will follow the one being reeled in. When you see the one you want, toss the jig to the big one. If a small fish darts toward it, jerk it away. Your buddy is just a tool for you catching bigger fish. It is a good idea to switch out with them to keep a friendship.
The sea bass fishery is fantastic for kid fishing, quick and easy fish fries and a cure for cabin-fever. Use light tackle to put more fun in the dysfunction.