The groups of folks who predict the weather have a tough job. It seems that no matter what they predict, Mother Nature might have other things planned. With all information gathered by several local weather experts last Sunday, it seems most missed an accurate prediction by a mile. Thus, my long-standing policy of making a weather cancellation call the morning we fish stands. Last Sunday’s predicted high winds and rain were way off and it was a fishable day. As always, know before you go and stay vigilant while you’re on the water.
It’s been tough getting offshore lately with fronts moving through. Higher winds making seas bumpy have stirred up Gulf waters from about 80-foot depths in to shore. Kingfish have moved back out deep but could do a turn around by the weekend, with lighter winds predicted to settle seas and possibly allow for some clearing water conditions. Several reports of guys getting out this week say that targeting hogfish is still doable out beyond 100-feet. Those same depths are producing some red grouper, mangrove and vermilion snappers too. Amberjacks have also put a bend in some rods beyond 120-feet along with some blackfin tunas.
If the weather clears by Saturday, we could see a warm-up that could draw some fish back to shallower depths. Spanish and king mackerel might be back on the to-do list. While nearshore waters are running around 66-to 68-degrees, these fish will follow the groceries. Find the bait stacks and you’ll find the fish.
It’s been a tough week for inshore anglers as well. The up and down extremes of weather have made getting on a consistent pattern more than just a chore, and some anglers are winding up shooting blanks. Sheepshead continue to be the most consistent bite with trout a close second. With the new moon occurring between Friday and Saturday, you can look forward to some better tides and moving water. Trout have been in holes this week on lower tides. Pay close attention to the tide levels when you fish, versus the predicted levels. With north winds, levels can be much lower and with southerly breezes the tides will be higher. Base your fishing on the actual tide levels. Solunar periods are a fixed and constant that weather does not affect, and when tides are not as much relevance, look at solunar periods as a guide. Barometric pressure can be a major key to successful fishing. A static barometer usually makes for mediocre fishing. A sharp rise or drop in pressure can be good at the beginning but declining as time passes. If you have incoming fronts, fishing can be at its best just prior to the front’s arrival.
Snook are a very fickle fish, feeding around changes of tides and barometric pressure, but some of the largest snook will chew when water is moving. Moving water around big moon phases on new or full moons will sweep baitfish with the tide, setting up ambush situations. Snook will position themselves in eddies and just out of the fast moving water to attack prey that is unable to swim against the tide. Find those spots and you’ll likely catch some legal linesiders.
Redfish have been even more finicky than snook lately. Most are just holed up on dark muddy bottoms trying to warm up. Even great casts with live baits are getting refused. But MirrOlure Lil’ John jerk baits rigged on 1/16-ounce jig heads can elicit a strike sometimes. Don’t fret you can’t get these fish chewing, since these reds will feed in their own time.
With lake water temperatures dropping this week, fish moved deep, but by the weekend if the predicted warming weather arrives, you can expect a big upturn in bass action. Crappie action continues but not at a frenzied pace. You may need to do some drift fishing to score some specks and find the schools. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!
Capt. Ray Markham