Well, Winter Is really upon us. As most of you, January is a challenging month. The low temps, the harsh, blistering wind, and crazy tides make for some difficult fishing. However, if you dress appropriately and brave the cold, the fishing in some areas will be really good.
January / February to me is the “winter” here in the Jacksonville, NE Florida area. The temperature is going to get as low as it will all year. The wind is going to continue to blow. The water is going to be chilly, but clear due to the Algae die off. So, with that said, the fishing is still pretty darn good. Look for redfish schooling in creeks, and along the sides of the ICW. The larger reds will be out in the deeper water near the Jetty rocks, bridges and deep creek holes.
A live shrimp this time of year under a popping cork, or pinned to a jig-head is very effective. A chunk of crab will also work very well in the River and deeper creek holes.
The trout bite is on fire this month. Target creek mouths, run-outs, rock piles and oyster beds with moving current. A mud minnow on a jig head, a plug, soft plastics can all be very effective and deadly on the trout. Remember to slow down the retrieve, pause a little longer, and twitch a little slower with the cold-water temps.
The sheepshead bite is in full swing. Target rocks on the high tide with fiddlers. Make sure your tackle is beefy enough to pull those convicts out of the structure. A medium heavy, fast action rod rated for 8-17 lbs. should do the trick. A knocker rig, Carolina rig or a slip float rig will all do the trick. Be sure to adjust your weight to the current.
Let’s discuss a slip float or float rig. This month lends itself to this style of fishing. With the brutal wind and harsh cold, a float rig is fun and easy to use. With the water temps being so chilly and the fish in deeper water, use the float to target certain depths. A live shrimp or mud minnow, even a crab claw will produce a lot of rod bending action, and some awesome fish. Black Drum, Redfish, Sheepshead, Trout and Flounder can all be on the hit list with this method. The nice thing about this rig is no casting in the wind. Let the float out behind the boat, drift it in the current over your favorite spot. I prefer a fluorocarbon leader in the 25 lb. range because of the rocks and other structure. Give this method a try, I am certain you will enjoy it, and catch some big fish as well.
This time of year can be difficult and challenging, but if you dress for the cold weather and mentally prepare yourself for the elements, you can catch some great fish. Fish have to eat, just like we do and the fishing pressure is way down. So, get out on the water, dress warm and be safe.
If you have any questions or would like to spend a day on the water, please give me a call or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also give me a shout on the Gone Fishin’ Radio show on Fridays from 12 to 2 p.m. on 102.3 FM. I look forward to seeing you on the water.
Captain Don Taylor, Jr