Timing Is Everything

Pay attention to the conditions to see if the fish are eating or waiting for the window to open.

We always talk about how to fish in cold weather situations. But, thanks to the warm winter we’ve had so far, the question now is how do you fish when the weather is supposed to be cold, but it’s hot?

Whether you’re fishing offshore or inshore, fish are very weather-driven. This time of year, we should have low humidity and prevailing northeast winds. When you don’t have those conditions in conjunction with cool water temperatures, the fish seem to go into a state of confusion.

One thing you need to understand is just because you can’t get the fish to bite first thing in the morning, that doesn’t mean they’re put off for the whole day. They’re in survival mode early in the morning, because it is so cold out. They’re waiting for a window to feed, holding out for the optimum time.

Those low water temperatures affect the pinfish, crabs and all the baitfish the same way. Everybody’s lying in the mud, soaking in as much heat as they can. Eventually, they’re going to have to eat and even though it could still be blowing 20 mph out, when the sun comes out, you can bet they’re going to chew big time. My point is, be flexible.

Give Things a Chance to Warm Up

One thing I experienced just this week happened when I poled up onto a flat near Flamingo. The tide was right for snook and redfish to be staging, but as I poled into the depression where the fish lay at the low phase of tide, the fish started spooking out from everywhere.

Redfish and snook were lying in the mud where I couldn’t see them and using the filthy bottom as a blanket for warmth. This was first thing in the morning and what I realized was the fish were there like they should be, but they weren’t going to bite. They were in survival mode because of the cold water.

My option was, knowing that the water temperature was cooler than expected for reds and snook that time of day, to come back after the area had time to warm up from the bluebird sky and sun they were going to receive over the next few hours. So, I went trout fishing, caught lots of trout, ladyfish and jacks for about three hours and then went back to that area.

The tide was coming in and the sun was shining so bright the water was warming quickly on top of the flat. I knew the fish would be going there for the heat. I also knew they had to eat sometime and that was going to be my best chance of the day.

I adjusted my poling to where I was about 100 or 200 yards from the actual depression and found the redfish and snook were more than willing to eat almost any offering. I like to throw ¼-ounce gold spoons under those conditions, but they also ate Bass Assassin jerk baits on weedless hooks.

The water was still cool and the fish were still in survival mode so the slow presentation was the way to go. Remember, slow metabolism means a slow presentation, fast metabolism means you can work your lure fast.

Wednesday Weather Check

My advice to all you working weekend anglers is, if you’re planning on fishing on a Saturday, begin paying attention to the weather on Wednesday. Monitor the air temperatures. If the cooler temperatures correspond with the lower tides, remember to give things a chance to warm up.

Next week, we’ll talk a little bit about fishing offshore when the weather is warmer than it should be for this time of year.

Tight Lines and Good Fishing,
Captain Rick Murphy