Winter along Florida’s Forgotten Coast has a much different meaning for anglers than it does for anglers up north. For Virginia anglers, to “winterize a boat” describes a storage process they perform; for us, it means to fill the bait box with live shrimp. Sure, we get our fair share of cold snaps, but that just helps us plan our most productive fishing days. Simply put, winters here are mild and the fishing never stops!
Don’t let the strict Florida harvest regulations fool you; if you’re looking for great tasting fish to eat, you’re in luck! Red grouper have been making a great showing lately and are often very close to shore. Black sea bass are extremely plentiful and very easy to catch. Sheepshead, speckled trout and many others provide inshore anglers lots of action, and all these species mentioned here (and this is just a few) make fantastic table fare.
For those looking for a big fight, redfish will be running the surf chasing bait in huge schools. Find the birds, and you’ll find fish that are willing to bite just about anything you throw at them. When throwing lures or live bait to these schools, it’s not uncommon for everyone on board the boat to hook up at the same time. Typically, these are not small fish, but rather big bull reds that will test your tackle. For catching reds within the slot limits, our bays and creeks still offer excellent opportunities to harvest these tasty fish.
For freshwater fun, the Apalachicola River will be loaded with hybrids and stripers chasing abundant shad. The lower end of the river will have a mix of largemouth bass hanging around with the speckled and white trout that find their way into the warmer fresh waters. Deep bends in the lower stretches of the river load up with a variety of species that are easy pickings with artificial baits, but live shrimp is always your best option.
There’s no need to suffer from cabin fever this winter. Get away from the cold and come chase fish here in Franklin County. The many fishing options available here will ensure you have a great time regardless of the weather… just be sure to pack your sun-block, short pants and sun glasses.
For a complete list of rentals, charters, supplies and more visit www.floridasforgottencoast.com.