Baby It’s COLD Outside…
Those aren’t just song lyrics. That’s the reality of being outdoors, specifically fishing, at this time of year. Although our experience is not remotely comparable to ice fishing, it can be pretty darn cold for us Florida folks. And yes, “falling iguanas” are indeed a thing this time of year. Gotta’ love Florida!
Poikilotherms are cold-blooded animals and include fish, snakes, iguanas, alligators and crocs. These animals are significantly affected by both very cold or very warm water. These animals get slow and lethargic as their body temps drop. You will notice, too, that at these times gators will spend most of their day sunning themselves to raise their body temps, which helps them hunt and eat. They will restrict their movement and are careful not to expend energy. What does this mean to us fisherfolks? Slow things down.
Our overall lures and tackle really won’t change much during the winter, nor will the location where we fish, which is the same as any other time of year and driven by tides and current. North winds and falling tides will expose great spots and concentrate fish into obvious holes and troughs hidden from us during higher tides. Take note and take full advantage of these newfound opportunities. Having said that, within your zones, seek out dark bottoms such as mud flats, grass flats or oyster bars if possible. These places will warm up sooner as the sun rises. Just a couple degrees of higher water temps will make a significant difference in your success. The most important change in your fishing routine is to slow things down. You must adapt to the fish’s lower metabolism and possible lack of aggression.
If you notice that your traditional patterns aren’t working, break out those 2.5” and 3” lures. Use more subtle and “organic” colors such as the Houdini, Pinfish or Mullet patterns. Avoid the whites or chartreuse, and again, slow down your presentations. If you like bucktail jigs, the brown or olive colors work great. OK, I’ll share a secret that works for me. I will tie on a lizard – yes, a lizard – to target Bass… stay with me here. It will force you to work the bottom and it’s just the ticket to drive their curiosity strong enough to make the decision to bite! If you don’t believe me, just try it because you have nothing to lose. There is only one known photo of this secret, and it’s right here 😉
That Snook, Trout or Redfish will be in an almost sleepy state and their instinct is to save energy and preserve their strength. Because of that, make your casts as close to or into cover, over that oyster bar or grass as you normally would. Now take a breath and relax. Let that lure sink, settle and rest a couple of seconds. When you start that retrieve, just make a slight twitch on the rod and a subtle drag for a few inches, then a slow retrieve. Feel that lure and imagine in your mind how it’s reacting to your input. The goal is to keep that lure in the fish’s strike zone as long as possible. Entice them to make up their mind to strike whether, whether that strike is caused by hunger or instinct. Regardless, entice them to make a choice.
That’s pretty much it, folks. This ain’t rocket science. They’re just fish, albeit temper testing, frustrating, challenging, sanity-questioning fish, but if you adapt to their changes, you’ll increase your chances of success. Lord knows the weather is amazing down here this time of year and we can take advantage of full days with great tides.
Tight lines friends, be safe and enjoy!
About the Author
Joe Garcia is the Brand Fishing Ambassador at Sunshine Ace Hardware.
Contact Joe for information on the hottest new fishing gear in stock, local fishing tips and more: JGarcia@SunshineAce.com.