By Neil Taylor and capmel.com kayak fishing staff contributors
Around the state:
January can be the most challenging month of the year. 2017 a La Nina year, we should have better fishing opportunities than the usual. Warmer air? Warmer water? For a lot of the state November and December were months of decent warmth overall. The wintertime species are going to be active. The regular species should be great to catch in the milder weather periods, and a searching game around the fronts. The tip of the week, mentioned in another area report: Be safe on the water. You can get into a real jam if you fall in with full clothing and cold water.
The Tampa Bay region– Great options for the start of the year. Go often if you can. The tides around the new moon will be awesome but the action will be excellent all month long. Redfish: A great month. Trout: Easy for the next five months. Flounder: Just not great this past nine months. Sheepshead are one of the best seasonal options. There are a ton of them and they are large.
Alternative species: Whiting, silver trout are absolutely great choices this month. Expect jacks, ladyfish and bluefish to put bends in your rod in the upcoming month as well. All of these species: The pompano jig with Uncle Neil’s teaser. I tie them. They catch everything. Inquire if you would like to buy teasers. Jigging is great fun. We routinely catch 15 species every time on the jigging trips. Pompano are a good one but this isn’t the best time of year to find them here. You want pompano, see the Southwest report. Steve Gibson has pompano down there every winter.
The Captain Mel Classic: May 12, 2018. The format remains the same. All lure. A fly division. Trout winners, redfish winners; grand prize category, longest combined inches of redfish and trout. Bonus species flounder. Entry fee the same at $30. All five divisions the same: Open; No Motor; Ladies; Junior and Fly.
Your past participation much appreciated, we hope to have you extremely involved again this year.
The host location will remain at the Fat Cat Tavern. Check in will be Friday May 11, 5 to 8PM.
We have the same volunteers to staff the event we had last year. Everything should go very well again. The charity this year will remain Suncoast Animal League.
In the Southwest “Suncoast” area of Florida, Steve Gibson with Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing:
I look for large snook action to improve on the Myakka River. Last year, the first and second weeks of January were the top periods for snook. We caught snook up to 44 inches, along with several small tarpon during that period.
In Sarasota Bay, I look for continued action on spotted seatrout, jack crevalle, bluefish to 5 pounds, Spanish mackerel to 5, redfish, flounder and, of course, ladyfish.
The East coast of Florida
We will see what this month brings. Work your lures and baits much slower to have a better hookup ratio. Fish tend to be more lethargic in cold water and are slow to strike your offering. Flounder will continue to be caught in and around the Sebastian Inlet jetty along with bull reds and black drum. Sheepshead will be found feeding under bridges near pilings and on sand flats while the smaller 4-10 lb black drum can be found under mangrove trees in canals along with snook. Snook will also be found sunning on sand flats but spooky. Look for schooling tailing black drum and redfish as well as trout in the Banana River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon. Pompano and black drum have still been hitting along the beaches using clams, sand fleas and shrimp.
In the Big Bend of Florida’s Panhandle, Robert Baker at TnT Hideaway on the Wakulla River: http://www.tnthideaway.com/ . If you are going to be in Panama City, stop in and see Brad and his staff at Sunjammers: http://sunjammers.com/ . We hope to have good conditions but January can be ROUGH up here. You have to learn to dress for it because there are some great chances to catch fish but you have to be geared right. Safety first, make sure you don’t drown yourself with a tipover with winter gear on. Redfish and trout will be great options in the back country.
In Northeast Florida: The bitter north and northeast winds can make it a challenging month. The challenge is to find safe, protected areas where the fish will be feeding. Safe is definitely a priority. Hypothermia is nothing to take lightly. Up here in this part of the state, it is pretty easy to get panicky if you end up in the water and aren’t ready for it. For the best action, natural baits with scent are probably going to outfish the lures this month. But the devoted lure users will stick with it but probably slow everything down with their presentations. Once through January, there will be an even bigger upswing in action but our fish will eat here this month! Come see us!
In the greater South Florida area: There are a lot of options for the kayak anglers down here in January. With some driving around: A fantastic variety of action inshore and offshore. Chokolosee has tons of redfish. Flamingo’s got snook. The Keys has lots of options, particularly for the kayak angler with the dream of catching a big cobia. Sailfish are also a possibility around the reefs all around South Florida. Every day the winds are down, there will be amazing stories of great fishing from the kayaks!
The tip of the month:
Repeat from January 2013 Forecast:
Are you prepared for the worst? Mentioned in the Northeast forecast, hypothermia is a realistic threat anywhere in the state for a few months of the year. There are various ways to avoid the threats, the biggest of which is to avoid being in the water. Especially if you are new to kayak fishing, build an action plan ahead of time, should you end up in circumstances where you are losing body heat fast. For regular contact with water, clothing can do the job. Waterproof jackets and pants will shield your body from the drips of water that, combined with wind, can make your core body temperature plummet. For those who want to get out of the kayak more and be in the water, waders are probably the best way to go. Safety is paramount: Waders filling with water is even worse than wearing no waders at all. Wearing a life vest for any time spent out of the kayak and in the water may save your life. Not only can you trip and get water in the waders, you could also get your feet stuck in the mud: Wearing the PFD, you can probably manage to get yourself free. A spare set of warm clothing kept in the car can also save the day. Getting out of soaked clothes and into the spare can also prevent the body temperature from dropping too far, too fast.
Need help learning how to kayak fish? Hire one of our guides on staff for your region and take advantage of their knowledge and sharpen your own skills!
Get out and into the action but as always: Be careful out there!