Talking tips for inshore and offshore west coast Florida fishing
Inshore: Winter is here and most anglers will use this time to maintain their equipment or head to the woods for some hunting opportunities. However, warmer days and abnormally low tides can result in some dynamite fishing opportunities for those willing to put on some waders and fish the deep holes in a flat. Negative low winter tides will leave a vast majority of shallow flats exposed with only deeper holes and channels holding trout and redfish in surprising numbers. There are numerous fishy areas such as this around Tierra Verde and Fort Desoto with easy wading or kayak access.
I prefer to wade these areas because it gives me more control, vision and stealth. Typically I bring one 3000 series spinning reel on a seven foot medium action rod loaded up with 10 pound braid and a twenty pound shock leader. My lure of choice is a 1/8 ounce jig head and a root beer or new penny colored paddle tail plastic body. Z Man’s Scented PaddlerZ and MirrOlure’s Marsh Minnow work very well. The key to targeting these fish are long casts focusing around the edges of the hole or channel then slowly working the lure into the deeper water. A slow retrieve is imperative to getting cold lethargic reds and trout to strike. Just lift the rod tip up slowly about three feet or so then let it fall and rest on the bottom for a second or two and repeat.
Cut pinfish and finger mullet work very well but are a little messy and tough to use while wading. If fishing is tough on the low tide, stick it out and wait on the first hour or so of the incoming. Redfish will start to tail and push large wakes in the shallow warmer water in their search for food. It will take an accurate cast to get the lure in the strike zone without spooking the fish, but the churning water and screaming drag will make it all worth the effort.
Offshore: Weather will be the biggest obstacle the next few months. With short weather windows and cold mornings, being ready and willing to go at the drop of a hat will provide some stellar bottom fishing opportunities. This means having your gear ready along with some frozen squid and sardines in the freezer. Red grouper, grunts and sea bass will be your main targets over hard bottom in depths of 35 to 60 feet. Start off by fishing with quarter size chunks of squid to get the bite going and the larger fish interested in what’s going on. After you have caught a few smaller fish drop down a whole squid or sardine and be ready to pull that grouper away from the structure. Red grouper must be a minimum of 20 inches and the daily bag limit is two per person.
If you have any boating or fishing questions give us a call at the Marina (727) 399-2631. Good luck and enjoy fishing this New Year.