Changing weather patterns results in change in fishing tactics —Is it summertime yet?
If you haven’t noticed, winter is finally upon us.
Cold northeasterly winds and falling water temps are going to cause us to adapt to the conditions, which will change the way we’re fishing and even the species we’re targeting.
Shiners are becoming less abundant on the flats and in the bays so using live shrimp as bait will be a sufficient alternative. That being said, fish that don’t eat shiners and prefer shrimp such as sheepshead, black drum and pompano are now on the menu. You’ll also find that redfish and snook will readily take a live shrimp if it swims in front of their nose — as well as most other species during the wintertime.
On my own charters, I’m still flip flopping between shiners and shrimp as bait. Actually, I’m just carrying both in the boat. Fishing nearshore structure is still producing limits of mangrove snapper and right now they prefer the shiners over live shrimp.
On the other hand, I’m finding pompano and permit along the beaches, which is definitely a need for shrimp. You can catch the pomps and permit on just plain old jigs, although I feel adding a small piece of shrimp to the equation really sweetens up the deal and results in more action. And I’ll tell you what —we’re also catching sheepshead, flounder and whiting on these tipped jigs where typically they may not catch these species on a naked jig — especially the sheepies.
Finally, jigging the deeper flats of Sarasota Bay with soft plastics such as DOA Cal jigs is resulting in some respectably sized spotted seatrout. Trout 18-20 inches are readily taking these jigs as they are worked along the grass beds and through sandy potholes. And just to keep things interesting, bluefish and jack crevalle are patrolling the flats, which is resulting in some drag-screaming light-tackle action.