This will be the winter we remember for a long time, I never understood why so many people leave the cold states to our north to move to Florida, but now I know why. A couple days of cold weather is tolerable, but when it’s constant it really is miserable. And to think this really isn’t that cold for northern standards, but for a Florida boy it’s been one miserable cold winter that can’t end soon enough.
I was on the water a lot this past week and each day was colder than I anticipated. Almost every angler I spoke to both professional guide or recreational angler is finding it extremely difficult to pattern fish due to the unprecedented cold this winter keeps bringing, not to mention getting them to eat. Every day we fished with the mindset that we would be happy with catching fish and take quantity over quality and if we found a fishy area we stayed on it rather than looking for something better. Several days we had smaller children on board so we really needed to look for action while keeping them comfortable.
We fished creeks in northern Buzzard Bay of Matlacha Pass, structure in northern Pine Island Sound and oyster bars in southern Matlacha Pass and caught fish in all these places. Around the oyster bars we actually had good redfish action on the coldest mornings. They were on the small side going from fifteen to eighteen inches, but it was sure nice to see a steady bend in the rods. We also found sheepsheads with the largest weighing four pounds and were surprised with a nice pompano around the oyster bars. We were fishing shrimp on bottom. We fished structure in Pine Sound looking for larger sheepsheads where we did not catch as many large fish as anticipated. There was lots of little sheepies a few small grouper and a couple larger sheepsheads up to three pounds boated. Again shrimp on bottom was the bait of choice. Everywhere we fished the bait had to be on bottom and moving very slow or not at all to get a bite.
What we caught this past week was by no means grounds for bragging, but with the conditions we were happy to just catch fish and avoid running more than necessary in the cold air. Things are looking up with a little stretch of warmer weather with highs in the seventies. Give it a few days and our fishing should improve with larger trout and redfish on the move and hopefully hungry.
“Catch the Action” with Captain Bill Russell