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December 08, 2009

Early Winter Fishing on the Flats

As cold fronts push in we are starting to move into more winter fishing on the flats.

Hello from Anna Maria. Winter feels like it's been in the air here since Thanksgiving. As many of you know this is a transition period for many of our local fish species. During this late fall early winter period our inshore fish are moving between their fall and winter haunts. It can make for very good fishing at times and very challenging moments at others. The waters core temperature is still high so on the cold fronts the fish will run for their winter hide outs, but as quick as they run one way they can turn and run back. The core water temperature is still high enough where all it takes is a few warm days and they are right back in their fall locations. I always say late fall and early spring is when watching your water temperature is absolutely critical for success. All it takes is 2 degrees in water temp and it totally changes the approach I take for my days on the water this time of year.
It's been a real productive week for me. I always like fishing on those first few real winter cold fronts of the year. I know a lot of people are scared of them, because they think the fishing is tougher, but I have always found the opposite. Yes it's true the fish's metabolism slows down, but the fish concentrate in larger & denser schools. What does this mean to you and me? Well that means the fish are in a smaller percentage of water. So if you know where that very small percentage of water is that's holding the fish you can do really well.
This week has been nothing different than any typical winter cold front pattern for me. Lots of redfish, almost all nice size slot fish in the 23 to 26 inch class, along with a few oversized reds in the 30 inch class and a few short less than 18 inches. A few snook as well now, but now that the water has cooled more I have switched to using more shrimp & we are not targeting snook as much. On the warmer days I have been catching bait when I see the water temp creeping up. We have managed a few nice snook on those days up to 32 inches. Since I have switch to shrimp in the back bays we have also been doing well on the black drum, lots in the 17 to 25 inch class. We have also been getting some large sheepshead and a few flounder mixed in.
As for offshore, grouper have been the main catch, lots of gags in 30 to 40 ft of water offshore. The bay is also thick with grouper, lots of keepers and some as shallow as 10 ft of water. There is also some good catch and release amberjack fishing out a little further as well as a few scamp and snapper.
Well I hope you have enjoyed my report. Next month my boat should be catching mostly reds, black drum and sheepeshead on the colder days, redfish and snook on the warmer days inshore. Grouper will make up the bulk of my offshore catch.

Capt. Matt Ercoli