If you surveyed 10 anglers that fished this past week six of them would tell you to stay home, not worth the gas or time, fishing stinks, fishing’s always bad during a cold front, and a million other excuses why they had no luck. The other four would tell you how they caught fish after fish and had very successful days and nights during the recent cold snap.
Frozen fish basics: Shallow water flats fish get cold first, then seek warmth. Simple, right?
If you aren’t finding fish on your favorite flat look for the deeper areas, or dropoffs and channels adjacent to your shallow fishing grounds. Cold fish seek comfort and deeper water equals warmth and relief to resident game fish populations.
Unless you are a trout, then it’s party time. They enjoy dropping temperatures and are stimulated to feed. Redfish also are tolerant of cold water and will be caught on the flats and in deeper water. When it gets really cold for an extended period look for all of these species to seek the comfort of the deeper zones.
Snook are affected the most and usually head for deeper water, like canals, canal basins, deep docks, and movement up the river to winter hangouts. Another place to find snook is on offshore reefs in deeper water. Divers report huge numbers of snook on these reefs in winter.
Whatever species you pursue, slow down your presentation, especially when using lures. Tipping jigs with shrimp adds smell appeal, and live and dead bait fished on the bottom is always a winter time winner.
Remember, trout season closes today.
Capt. Rob of SoulMate Charters reports 60-degree water temps at the Punta Rassa ramp along with good trout fishing near the Sanibel Causeway. Look for grass flats. Lots of bonnethead sharks caught near the Sanibel Lighthouse on shrimp and in low, cold water due to the recent north winds.
Capt. Dick of Easy Rider Charters says the mackerel bite is still on. Use whitebait to catch them. He also reports good redfish activity in south Matlacha Pass under the brush on higher water, and near the power lines on cut pinfish and whitebaits. Plenty of whitebait are out there, but are starting to get harder to find.
Capt. Doug Root out of D&D in Matlacha reports good snook fishing near St. James City. He says to look for snook around docks in that area. He is catching redfish in the mouth of the river on incoming tides and had a recent 10-fish day. He advises live greenbacks as bait for the snook and big shrimp for the redfish.
Mr. Steve of Chiquita Bait & Tackle weighs in with reports of excellent snook fishing using smaller shrimp. He says to head for docks in the southeast Cape and to fish at night, and look for a fast outgoing tide. Check tide charts and plan accordingly.
Black drum are hitting at the Matlacha Bridge on bottom-fished dead baits or shrimp. Catching trout at the Yacht Club, and large jacks at Tarpon Point.
n Capt. Mike Smith of Lehr’s Economy Tackle tells me he is catching reds in upper Pine Island Sound. He’s finding big breeder size reds, along with tarpon, chasing baits “out front” (meaning off the beaches.)
Running west out of Redfish Pass and looking for birds is a great place to start your search. Also, you will find Spanish and kings still fattening up on these same bait schools. This is exciting fishing as you never know what you might catch next.
Keep a rod rigged with a wire leader in case of Spanish or kingfish strikes. Don’t forget to keep an eagle eye on your fuel filters for water contamination due to Ethanol in the gas.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org'>email@example.com, or (239) 282-9434.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (239) 282-9434.