I guess it’s a good thing my previous post mysteriously dissolved. I’ve decided to go into a slightly different direction. Winter is a time for reflection, repair and strategizing for the upcoming season for us type of folks. It’s easy to fall into a hole to get beset by shorter days and colder weather. Languishing on the warmer days of wade fishing and sun baked afternoons lush green marsh grass and never ending flood tides. yes, I miss them too. However there are many things about the off season and cooler months that I look forward to as well. I’m gonna share a few of these things with you in this installment. First I’d like to thank y’all for a great 2019, 2020 and we’re excited about a lot of new adventures and expansion in the year to come. We‘ll be expanding our reach and broadening our horizons this year. We look forward to new friends and grand adventures awaiting our repeat clientele and welcoming our new folks. As I move into seminar season I look forward to meeting some of y’all and reuniting with old friends. So finishing up November into early December, we had some great November trout fishing and struggled with our December albacore season but never the less found fish. So I shifted my focus early but naturally to backwater trout and reds. We had days where a four man limit was achieved within 20 minutes of our charters. My go to on charters is soft plastics by Slayer Inc. and A. M. Fishing. I use slayer and Bowed up jig heads. I prefer soft plastics for charters and for a search bait. I may then switch to a hard bait like a MirroLure or whatever you choose. But soft plastics are highly effective and user friendly. Add some ProCure scent, I use inshore saltwater blend, it can really make the difference at times. Now one more additional advisement, when I fish these backwaters stealth is key. I plan my fishing areas on wind direction and tide. I plan my approach accordingly. I use my trolling motor minimally and never use a traditional anchor. Think of it this way. When you drop your anchor in a 30’ wide by 4’ deep creek lined with oysters. The chain clanks and clatters the anchor clangs constantly. Filling these now quieter areas with unnatural noise. I use a Stick It pin the predecessor to the power pole. It is stealthy and easy to use. Imagine if you will me riding in your car wearing a full set of cow bells. You would notice. So take this into consideration and plan your approach a little more carefully. I expect this years good trout season to continue into the year ahead. We should have good luck through the rest of this month, so get out there and enjoy those nice windows of weather.
My real favorite winter pastime is sightfishing for skinny water drum. I tie flies for this, make my own buck tails and have the most gear with this in mind. I do this with my skimmer on charters and on my Diablo Hybrid kayaks. These fish are usually super shallow, it is not uncommon to find 19-40” fish in schools of 3 to 500 in these skinny areas. I like high sun and low water. Falling tide to slack water low. I use spoons like Nacho Daddies 3/8 or 1/2 oz, in natural colors typically. My day to day go to in most areas and conditions are soft plastics. Usually 4 or 5 inch paddle tails, jerk shads or hybrids. Fine offerings from Slayer Inc. lures and A. M. Fishing products. I use weedless weighted or at times unweighted jig heads by Slayer or Lazyman hooks. High quality polarized lenses designed for shallow water sight fishing like Smith optics or Baijio are my choice lenses. This can really make a differences. A more affordable alternative are Suncloud optics a division of Smith, at the $55 price point. Calculate your approach, plan out and prepare your gear. I may also lighten my leader to 15 or 20# Seaguar and drop to 10 or 15# braid for this type of fishing. Good luck and keep searching.
My other favorite type of fishing is Surf casting artificials to sometimes amazingly large groups of upper and over slot surf reds. We are blessed with plenty of beach front to enjoy this fishery. I prefer Cape Lookout and Core Banks. I now use GoreTex waders after years of using neoprene. I can easily add the appropriate layers under them to stay plenty warm and it is much easier to cover more ground with less effort at the end of the day. My go to rod weight is 7’6” to 8’ medium heavy fast or moderate fast. (8-15 or 10-20) I find these work better as these fish are feisty there is a lot of current, the bite can sometimes seem subtle with so much going on around you. Also the type of lures you’ll range. We use 4-5” soft plastics, jerk shads are my favorite, paired with 1/2-1oz jig heads equipped with good 4/0 hooks. I prefer yellow chartreuse it not sure that always matters. Metal jigs are currency and sometimes a necessity in stronger currents and facing winds. I primary is a the Clark spoon shad jig 3/4 to 2oz in pink or gold/chartreuse. I remove the trebles and go with 2/0-3/0 inline singles. I may also use Gunslinger or Blue Water Candy metal jigs. My leader is typically 25# Seaguar flouro with 30 on hand. I carry my tackle in a bucket and use a rod caddy made by Rod Runner, this thing is awesome! pre planning in regards to gear, strategy and boat anchoring is key to a pleasant day. Some of this can be taught, but inevitably trial and error is king. If you want to learn the ropes and give this a try, don’t store those waders after duck season, give me a shout. I run altered rates for this fishery typically.
Either way I hope y’all take advantage of the winter down time to go through your gear, research new products, utilizing the internet to research new tactics and study satellite maps so that you can find your own water, because the reality is you’re not gonna catch em from your couch or lap top, but you do have tools at your disposal to help you get better and Improve your game. If you guys want the intro come fish with me I promise you’ll be satisfied from the learning experience. We are blessed to have a world class fishery at out disposal with some really isolated areas that are wild still with pristine grass flats and world class drum schools. The cooler months can be great for scouting new bottom or breaking down the unique features of your favorite areas. The serenity can clear your mind and refresh your spirit. The significantly reduced recreational traffic can reveal to you what makes our area so special. Get out side and enjoy what our Crystal Coast has to offer in the off season.