Wind, wind, go away, come again another day! Well, seven weeks later it was still blowing. Things finally started to settle down a week after Thanksgiving and the fishing has gotten back to normal for this time of year.
Average winter temperatures along the Space and Treasure coasts will range from the low 50s in the mornings to the mid-70s by the middle of the afternoon. Water temps will range from the middle to high 60s to as low as the mid-50s during extended cold periods. During these cold fronts, the morning bite can be little to non-exsistent for many anglers so do what I do: Stay in bed till the sun breaks the horizon!
But each passing cold front means an eventual warm-up on the grassflats and offshore waters. Then it will be that time to get out and wet your lines.
Here’s the skinny:
Trout/Redfish: During this time trout and reds will spend a majority of their time seeking warmer waters in the deeper troughs and holes along the ICW. During Florida’s winter bluebird days, these species can be found warming themselves in the sand potholes and atop the oyster bars of the shallows. A slow presentation along the edge of the holes with your favorite soft bait should send the sunning predator into a feeding frenzy. When fishing the deeper holes and drop-offs, utilize a popping-cork rig with either a live, dead or plastic shrimp. The popping action of the rig will normally bring the fish up and out of the deeper waters.
Black Drum: Large migrating schools of black drum can be found swimming, feeding lounging north of the Pineda Causeway and in the Banana River “no motor zone.” Live shrimp, dead shrimp and cut clams will account for many of the monster catches. I recommend not using anything lighter than a 20-pound rig with 60-pound test leader on these giants. Between grinding their heads into the sand and running back into the school, the lighter rigs will just not hold up during a long battle with these brutes.
Inshore Trolling: Wintertime means trolling deepwater plugs along the deeper edges and troughs of the ICW for keeper snapper and grouper. It will take a good bottom finder for consistent catches of these prized offshore fish. If the winds will let you, try “slow trolling” with your trolling motor instead of your main engine.
Sebastian Inlet: Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, sheepshead and drum will account for much of the wintertime catch west of the jetties. Silver spoons, jigs and windcheaters are the inlet angler’s weapon of choice. For those brave enough to weather the wintertime blows, try fishing at night on an incoming tide.
Offshore: Bottom fishing for grouper and snapper is always consistent this time of year on the deeper ledges, reports Capt. Billie Stewart of the Rouge Wave Fishing Charters. Drop fishing with jigs and live bait will account for much of the bottom catch. The kingfish bite will be dependant on the cycle of winter storms and water clarity.
Dive Report: Lobster divers report that both spiny and shovelnose catches have been consistent on the 90- to 120-foot ledges, when the wind’s not blowing. As usual, the 40- to 60-foot ledges have been picked clean early in the season. Due to the cold water and deeper dive, Nitrox is recommended for those divers doing multiple drops during the winter months. Get your spear fishing in now; it may be your last for many years!
Waterfowl: Flats fishermen and waterfowl hunters will be sharing the grassflats through January 29, 2012. Flats fishermen are reminded that these outdoorsmen only get to enjoy their sport for 60 days a season. A 300-yard buffer will let hunter and flats fishermen enjoy their traditions.
See you on the boat or in the blind!
Capt. Jeff Kraynik is the owner/operator of The Coastal Sportsmen and for the past 26 years has fished and hunted the Palm Bay/Sebastian/Vero Beach areas of the Indian River Lagoon. The Coastal Sportsmen and crew specialize in personalized light-tackle saltwater flats fishing, waterfowl and alligator hunts. Capt. Jeff is an IGFA certified guide and a guide in good standing with CCA/Florida. Capt. Jeff is a pro-staff fisherman for Hurricane “Redbone” Rods, PowerPro Lines, Riptide Lures and Albakore Tackle Systems. “From the grassflats to the mudflats and everywhere in between.”Contact Info: Capt. Jeff “The Commodore” KraynikThe Coastal Sportsmen(p) 321 863-9182(w) coastalsportsmen.com(e) email@example.com(Facebook) captjeffkraynik