Water Temps

Capt. Dave Stephens

Well it seems this winter is going to be one of those crazy ones; warm for several days, followed up by a cold front. This can be some of the toughest fishing that we can deal with. It’s not that our winter fishery is tough. The problem is that our fishery doesn’t know if it should go into winter mode or stay shallow. Well folks welcome to fishing on the border of the tropics. Catching fish this time of year can be a little difficult if you allow it to be. Let me fill you in on the biggest trick us guides follow this time of year; it’s water temp.

The difference in where I fish, how deep I fish and the area I fish, depends on water temp. The crazy thing is this can change from day to day. I get asked often what the magic number is for our water temp. Well my response is, “What are you targeting?” For the most part, our fishery has a water temp of 80° on an average. Most of the fish that we target are warm water fish. However, we have plenty of fish that cooler water does not effect. Actually, we have fish that cooler water increases the bite and schools these guys up.

One of the most prolific of the winter fish is the sheepshead. This is the time of year when these guys school up to spawn (often confused with their freshwater counterpart). The saltwater version is very good to eat, but hard to catch. These fish, black and white striped, are some of the best bait thieves. Crustaceans are the preferred food for these guys. I also recommend fishing with a small hook. Local docks, piers and areas with rocks will hold lots of fish. Like I said crustaceans are the preferred meal, so bring plenty of shrimp.

Another fish that I think of during the cooler months, sea trout. This is the time of year for some of the best trout fishing. When a major front passes and our water temps drop, these guys school in the deeper holes; areas such as creek mouths, potholes on the flats and residential canals. Like most fish during the cooler months, shrimp is the best bite. Most people, when they think about trout, they think popping corks. Well this time of year, fishing a shrimp directly on the bottom is not a bad idea. Fish can often be found in deeper holes hanging close to the bottom. Fishing a shrimp on a jig head on the bottom is a great way to locate fish. Often a bite will happen very quickly, so keep moving until you locate a school of fish.

Capt. Dave Stephens