By: Capt. Dave Stephens
Happy New Year to all the fine folk’s that have come back to South West Florida. I hope you had an outstanding summer fishing your home waters. So far, we have had some fronts that have pushed down on us. We normally don’t experience water temps that drop below 70 degrees until January and this year we have had some cooler than normal weather. I myself do not find this to be a bad thing. It just means that us as anglers need to adjust our technique. We need to adjust the species that we target, and how we fish for them. If our waters drop below 70, and stay on that decline. That means that our snook fishery is done until things begin to warm up. However, a fishery that thrives during our cooler weather is sea trout. When mother nature decides to throw us a curve ball, we move to deeper waters. Fortunately for us we have probably more man-made canals, other than Miami than any other place in Florida. We also are fortunate to have rivers all around us. These areas are estuaries that our fish move to during cooler weather.
What is another big species of fish that benefits from South West Florida having a colder than normal winter? If you guessed sheep head, well you got it correct. These striped bait thieves are often confused with a freshwater drum that is caught up north. Well the sheep heads that we target during the winter months are actually in the porgy family. They are a family of fish that feed heavily on crustaceans and hang around areas with heavy structure. Areas like old docks, seawalls with old rock riff raff are prime areas to locate these guys. During the winter months is the spawning season for these guys, so finding large schools can be easy, if you know where to look. The biggest advice I can give is don’t be afraid to move. If you’re not getting bites move on to the next location. Baits such as shrimp, and fiddler crabs work the best. I also recommend using a small hook on light line, with just enough weight to keep contact with the bottom. These guys didn’t get painted with black and white stripes for nothing, make sure you bring plenty bait.
Winter time can be a great time to fish, you just need to adjust your approach. You also may need to slow down a bit. As our water cools down, our fish tend to slow down also.
If you would like to enjoy some of South West Florida’s finest fishing? Give us a call or send an email. All of our charters are private and customized to fit your and your party’s needs.
Capt. Dave Stephens