I like a good Winter... BUT!
Hello folks, and welcome to the "winter doldrums" in Jacksonville, Florida. Those approx. 8-10 days of nearly hard freeze, all the way to the beaches. Really kicked some "fish butt."
I like to explain it like this..... "the fish are just like the lizards around your house. When it's cold, really cold, you won't see ‘em. They’re there, but they certainly aren't crawling the screens on my windows at my house."
The fish are there too… but!!!
It all started off like this for me. On a day that wasn't fit for any Floridian to be, even outside, I was on the river in Mayport. My water temp gauge was at 48 degrees as it blew 20-25 knots out of the N.E. As soon as my live Shrimp were impaled on a hook and sent on a drift behind the boat, they died immediately! Me and a hard core, die-hard regular charter customer lasted a whopping two hours before we packed it in for a different day. A warmer one that didn't have a "wind chill factor" in the teens!
There have been some warmer days since that epic fail of a morning. And the only fish I can find biting consistently since the water popped back into the mid 50's are: Speckled Trout and loads of pup Redfish. Those expensive live Shrimp are just making it for a few drifts. But if you try, you can score some legal keepers? Of course, that's up to Mother Nature and where you’re fishing.
Without a doubt, my #1 fish catching method during the winter is what's referred to locally as "float-rigging". It's just a slip float rig to the rest of America. And if I can't catch a fish on it, one way or another, I just might as well head home. Bait is always live shrimp, hooked gently under the horn with a small # 4 hook. I use a leader of 20 pound test mono and 30# braid on my reels.
Here's a schematic of the rigging method. "Set your depth" by sliding the stopper knot to put bait approximately 1 foot off the bottom.
Captain Dave Sipler