Perdido Key to Cape San Blas
Includes Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Panama City and Port St. Joe
Lets hope for our collective sanity that this cold weather, rough seas, and high winds from the North does not go on forever. Maybe, just maybe mother nature is going to get it out of her system early and provide us with one the calmest years ever! This weekends forecast has the temperatures dropping quickly Friday and staying in the 40’s throughout the weekend. The cold air is being pushed by some strong Northwest winds blowing from the mid west. The best bet in my opinion is staying at the house and prepping reels and gear, but if you have to get out our region offers some decent options for tucking out of the wind. Just be sure to wear plenty of layers!
If you have to get out and do some “product testing” its a great time to hit the backwaters. Our marshes, rivers, creeks, and bayous all offer places to out of the wind. These same areas also offer trout, red-fish, black drum, and flounder a winter time retreat. Look for the fish to stack up in the deeper pockets. When it comes to winter time fishing I find that comfort for my clients often out weights a slightly better bite, plus it keeps them fishing longer. Even on fun trips I find myself taking people newer to fishing more often and the key to keeping a youngster or green horn fishing is comfort. Fishing spots that allow you to tuck up and out of the wind will make fishing easier and more enjoyable. After all, we are all out there to have fun, not much fun in 20knt winds and temps in the low 40’s. Some of my best winter spots are well protected.
Look for fish to stack up in the deeper bends of creeks and rivers, where a creek intersects a river, or where two rivers come together. These deeper spots offer stable water temperatures and ideal place for fish to wait in ambush for passing bait drifting down current. The ideal set up would be to position just up current and to the side of the “hot spot”. I like to use a live shrimp or strip of finger mullet on a light jig head and 2-3ft of 15lb fluorocarbon. I like to cast up current and use just enough weight to reach the bottom yet drift naturally. A light action inshore rod and 2500 series reel spooled with thin diameter braid will help with a natural drift while also feeling the light winter bites. Look for trout to hold more in the middle of the water column while red-fish will tend to be near the bottom or against the shorelines. Bridges are a good place to look too. It does not have to be a long run from the dock, often times some of the best spots are a short idle away.
Looks like this weekend is going to be a NO GO. Strong North winds are forecasted to last late into Sunday making seas in the 3-5ft range. The best bet will be staying at the dock and doing maintenance. Proper maintenance can prevent a ton of loss money and fishing time later. Boats that sit will always have more problems then those that are run. Be sure to run your boat at least every 2 weeks, check battery connections and spray anti-corrosion spray on connections. Bilge pumps should also be checked regularly. Be sure the work and are free of debris. Reels and rods are also on my list. Be sure to clean and lube gear, handles, and roller guides. I take all of my reels off the rods and clean under the handles. I also like to take all of my top shots off and put fresh ones on for the coming months. The line may be good that’s on there but I do not like to take chances. Tight lines and calm seas.