By Merry Beth Ryan
If the old saying “patience is a virtue” holds true in your life in the anglers world it will become a requirement for targeting winter fish. Especially if snook is on your agenda. In the summer months snook are fierce predators, but in the winter months they soon become docile “couch potato’s”. We human beings seem to get all frazzled over everything from after Christmas blues, keeping New Years resolutions, to Super Bowl party preparations.
Linesiders are very content and very satisfied laying low, motionless just hoping their bodies can absorb enough warmth to get them through another night just as a homeless person hopes for while trying to survive another winter night on the streets. To a snook any day in the winter months they wake up is a good day. This is not to say a snook will not feed in the winter. If food presents itself, snook will eat. As with most everything in life it is all in the presentation as to whether we are successful or not successful.
Anglers will need to make it easy on snook if that is going to be their chosen target. Snook are simply trying to survive in the winter months. They are in search of any source of heat they can find. Residential canals, power plant outflows, and rivers are all good places to begin your snook searching. Docks are also a great structure to look for snook residing there because the structure absorbs heat from the sun which will radiate warmth through the water.
A snook’s metabolism is low during our cooler winter months. Burning calories are not what snook are looking to do as many of us are looking to do after over eating throughout the holiday season. Slowing down your approach will help you become a successful winter angler. Snook are lethargic when the water temperatures drop. Wherever you fish, give that spot a chance to produce. The fish may very well be there, but keep in mind it could take a little while longer for them to respond in these cooler water temps. A cast or two will not work if you want to successfully work an area while winter fishing. Give a dock or deep hole at least 30 minutes then move on to another spot.
Remember snook season is closed for keeping through January 31st. Catch and release is still allowed. Legal snook must be 26 inches long and no bigger than 34 inches to keep.
Winter is also one of the best times of the year for catching redfish. Tides become slower and sight fishing these bronze beauties can become an anglers ultimate challenge. Again patience is require when your target becomes red. This type of fishing can sometimes be referred to as “hunting” rather than fishing. It does not take much to spook these fish. Making a perfect cast is in order here just as it is when sight casting to a bonefish in the Florida keys. Look for tails in the air at the surface of the water. Their tails will break the surface, waiving back and forth as they search for food.
Make your cast out in front of their intended path then drag it across their path. Watching a redfish take your bait is priceless. Unlike snook redfish are fairly tolerant to lower water temps. But it may take them a while to turn on so always be patient. You will be rewarded. In these cooler winter months the water temperatures are low enough that the reds will feed throughout the day, with the tides. Winter tides are very low which can be great for spotting those tails saluting you. Now once you spot those tails try to stop your knee’s from shaking and your heart from pounding, take a deep breath and stretch your line and hang on tight.