Cold water slows the metabolism of a fish way down. They move slower and don’t travel long distances. What they like to do, is drop off into deeper water for warmth. Residential canals lined with docks are great areas to target winter fish. Deep-water back bays and coves lined with mangrove and oyster bed shorelines are another. These areas usually have muddy bottoms which warm up during the day and retain heat during the night. As the sun rises and the water warms, the fish become a more active and are begin to feed.
One of the biggest considerations this time of year, (for me anyway), is what to use for bait. I always prefer to fish with live-bait. Majority of the time it will be scaled sardines, but when we’ve had an extended period of extremely cold weather, catching bait can be difficult. When that’s the case, I make a quick stop at the tackle shop to buy some shrimp.
We don’t catch as many snook with shrimp as would with scaled sardines, but we’ll catch a few. However, during the winter, shrimp are just as effective, if not a better bait choice for catching redfish and trout. Another bonus fish we’ll catch with shrimp is sheepshead. We definitely don’t catch any sheepshead with sardines.
Despite the up and down temperatures this month, (mostly up), the fishing has been steady. I’ve only had one slow day and that was right after the passing of a cold front. Most days we’ve caught the main three species to complete an inshore slam of snook, redfish and trout.
Pictured: Brian Brown achieved an inshore slam recently aboard Afishionado while fishing the shorelines of St. Petersburg.