Bitter cold temperatures for the region, combined with wind and sea continue to cramp the styles of anglers prospecting the waters both shallow and deep.
Quite persistent, the current weather pattern has on some days truly made it difficult to enjoy the surroundings, let alone entertain a commute to the fishing grounds.
Anglers braving the elements or timing an outing between systems have encountered mixed bag conditions along with traditional wintertime targeted species accustomed to lower Gulf water temperatures and more resilient to the impacts of sizable barometer fluctuations.
With the Gulf grounds possessing a range of cautions and warnings, anglers eager to wet a January line have found refuge within the vast backcountry islands and miles of residential canals. Here on the inshore, leeward shorelines and protected coves have been the scene of comfort and some rod bending action.
Typical for the January/February winter period and regardless of weather, inshore efforts are now focused on areas of artificial structure, submerged natural hard bottom areas, deeper holes and flats. These focal points have been and will continue to produce sheepshead, black drum, mangrove snapper and speckled trout throughout the remainder of the winter season and well into spring.
Staying on the bite, successful wintertime anglers employ low and slow tactics, including live and cut shrimp fished close to the bottom, a variety of jigs tipped with shrimp retrieved slowly within the lower half of the water column, and live shrimp presented under a traditional or clacker style popping cork.
Out on the offshore grounds and truly no surprise, overall effort is down. Hampered by very rough seas, the period has been a rough go for anglers hoping to cash in on snapper/red grouper success. However, brief weather windows are allowing the fleet safe access to and from the grounds.
Especially for red grouper, the cooler Gulf temperature has pushed the biomass of the popular reef fish into deeper waters. Anglers prospecting for red grouper pay dirt are running to the 80-foot market a minimum while those working deeper are finding the pick to be more consistent.
Despite the cold conditions, the techniques and baits used for red grouper change very little throughout the fishing seasons. Larger natural baits both live and dead along with a wide variety of bucktail and metal jig applications work well here in the Southwest region.
While patience is necessary when out in the angling field, seasoned red grouper diggers find that aggressively stopping and shopping over and around their guarded coordinates assists them with locating bunched up schools/aggregates of keeper-sized class grouper. Typical anchor set time for most is 15 to 20 minutes in duration.
Look for a forecast wind shift to moderate and warm our ambient temperatures and smooth the seas within the nearshore and inshore arenas. Out on the open Gulf, the conditions could be bumpy depending upon the strength of a building high-pressure system. Remember, fish smart, fish safe, take advantage of the placid days and always listen to your captain.
Contact Person: Mrs. Michelle