Throughout Florida, every region offers a different opportunity at inshore species. For example, fishing the oyster bars of Jacksonville is much different than fishing the grass flats of Pine Island Sound. Most fishermen are the same; every time we walk into the tackle shop, we pick up a new lure or two…or ten. Having a variety of lures in your tackle box is great, but there is a baseline. Having these five styles of lures in your box will cover just about any species and technique used in Florida. Many companies make lures like these below. Check out your options and use what works best for you.
Rapala Skitter Walk
We live for the topwater bite; if you don’t, you might not be alive. The click’n and clack’n noise of the rattle catches the fish’s attention, and a profile “walking” on the surface drives them to seal the deal, and explode on the bait. The best times to throw topwater plugs are early morning and late evening, when the fish are more active. Overcast days may extend these periods of good topwater fishing, due to the lack of sun. Topwater is my go-to bait when working around schools of bait. Hitting the outside edges of the school, the plug looks like a bait that has strayed from the pack, making it an easy target. You can check out the Skitter Walk here.
Deadly On Anything (D.O.A.) couldn’t be any truer when it comes to the company’s shrimp. I think I’ve caught more species on this lure than any other lure in my box. Everything eats shrimp! From giant tarpon to seatrout, and everything in between. The key to working shrimp lures is, SLOW IT DOWN. Think about how a shrimp moves in the water. Majority of the time they hang close to bottom, with the occasional kick, trying to escape predators. Mimic this with your lure: Let it fall to bottom, and give it a quick twitch of the rod tip. Most of the time you will get a bite as the shrimp falls back to bottom. You can check out the D.O.A. Shrimp here.
Small pilchards, peanut bunker, finger mullet, all have a small profile, flash and flick, and are candy for inshore species. A suspending twitchbait mimics baits like these. A quick twitch of the rod tip gives the lure a quick flash and dart action. As the lure drops in the water column, fish sense this as an injured bait and go in for the kill. Pot holes, creek points and mangrove shorelines are my favorite areas to use a suspending twitchbait. You can check out the MirrOdine here.
Spro Bucktail Jig
A timeless classic, the bucktail jig is often overlooked nowadays, but catches just as many fish as it did decades ago. I find that a bucktail jig excels when fish are extremely lethargic, as in the midst of wintertime. Slow hops along bottom, letting the bucktail flow in the water, work best. You can even add a soft-plastic paddle tail for a little more action, or a tidbit of shrimp to add some scent when the fishing is tough. You can check out the Spro Bucktail Jig here.
YO-ZURI Crystal Minnow
A lipped plug allows you to choose the depth of water column you want to fish, depending on lip size. These lures offer a tight wobble, flash and give off strong vibrations that fish sense through their lateral line. You can either twitch this lure or give it a steady retrieve; try both and see what the fish want. Troll these plugs at idle speed through canals and near structure for hard-hitting strikes from snook and other species. Come sun down, shadow lines around bridges and docks are great places to rip these plugs, mimicking a bait on the run. You can check out the Crystal Minnow here.