Adapting to the start of winter or as I like to say “fishin’ in the wind”, the incessant wind finally became a “join us” rather than “beat us” scenario. Wind one day, calm for two, wind for one, calm for two: It is Fall in Florida. So, I say that and the forecast is now two days of wind, a little lighter, two more days of wind. Some of the wind forecasts are HIGH. That’s life. Where to go: I can catch a fish 365 days a year. My trips set up: We may have to go to those bad weather locations but we will catch fish.
Redfish have remained a tough option. Pompano are still possible but not as likely. With redfish, a calamity: The offshore spawning school swam straight into the Red Tide. Massacre. So one generation of redfish (at least) is lost. I believe things won’t improve with redfish until hatcheries are helping. Pompano could make a resurgence if fronts hold off.
Status quo on Trout action: Speckled trout just haven’t really kicked in full gear yet but they are here. Give it one more real cold front and get ready for six months of strong action on trout. NOTE: Infux of bluefish could spell trouble for trout. I have not heard other people saying the same thing but the last time we had excessive bluefish I witnessed them free range grazing on speckled trout. Topwater lures like the Mirrolure Top Pup are killer on shallow-water trout. Minimum length: 15 inches. Tip: Let go until about 17 inches. Four total is the limit in the South region, one of the four can be over 20 inches. Tip #2: Let them all go over 20 inches. The one fish allowed over 20 inches: Trout are a drum. The bigger they get, the less quality the meat. Preserve our trophy fishery for the future and only remove the slot size fish. Two solid option: The SlamR for trout; topwater lures for trout.
Flounder action is still good. The front impact: Significant. Areas where the baitfish disappeared completely, so did the flounder. The 12 Fathom SlamR is the best lure. Slow as you can go.
Sheepshead fishing is already getting “winterlike.” Fly rodders can trick a sheepie but the lure people don’t get it done. A live shrimp won’t be turned down. Other baits are fiddler crabs and sand fleas (if you can get them). Shrimp are pretty easy to acquire. Fresh dead will work as well as live IF they truly are fresh. Keep them on ice and use about a 1/0 size hook. Minimum length: 12 inches. Tip: Let go until about 14 inches. Use a hook as small as size 2 but no smaller.
The bluefish should stick around through a lot of the winter months. Mackerel have thinned somewhat but should stick around if the weather pattern settles back to mild. I am actually hoping that there are fewer bluefish around than I am hearing. They are eating machines. In the absence of other things to have, they will eat our other fish. Fun to catch, leader line under 40 pounds, you are going to lose a lot of tackle. Tip: Throw a topwater lure to them. They do not get their teeth to the leader when they eat a longer plug like a Mirrolure Top Pup or similar style lure.
Snook- If you catch a snook: don’t take it out of the water for eight minutes taking pictures. Don’t “get a weight” of the fish. Enjoy the species if you cross paths, but take extra steps to make sure those fish remain in the living population. . Do your part and try to give this species a chance to return to prominence regardless of their faulty data and poor decision making. Snook make me sad. It may never be what it was ten years ago. I enjoyed some of the premiere snook fishing that ever existed. But that is gone.
Cobia. Possible. King Mackerel. Possible.
Call to book a trip if you want to get in on the fun. Kayak fishing trips are fun, instructional and a great investment if fishing is going to be your hobby in the future.
As always: Be careful out there!