Fishing Report


With winter’s solid arrival, the flats are essentially barren right now. The focus has shifted to the tidal creeks and coastal rivers, but not all are the same. Some will be barren too, while others will be loaded with quality fish. It’s just a matter of hunting until you find the motherlode,” says Capt. Dave Lear of Tallahassee. Trophy trout, some truly reaching “gator” length status, and big oversize reds are prowling the backwaters right now, augmenting good numbers of slot fish. Sheepshead, black sea bass and flounder are often fun by-catch.

Despite the recent heavy rains, the coastal waters are surprisingly clear. Water temperatures have dropped considerably though, so methodical presentations are a must. Soft plastic jigs like the DOA 4-inch jerk baits, Sureketch touts and Zman minnows are effective right now. Use the lightest jig head possible to reach bottom and slooooowly hop them through the strike zone. Suspending plugs like the Unfair Rip-n-Slash, Rapala Twitchin’ Raps or MirrOlure Paul Brown minnows barely twitched as they descend will draw reactionary strikes. Shrimp lures like the DOA standard 1/4-ounce or the new 2.75 shrimp are more good choices. Natural colors like clear and gold work in cooler water, but don’t hesitate to try something else like the classic pearl/red head if the bite is slow. The feeding window is usually brief, so be sure to take full advantage whenever the dinner bell is ringing.

For anglers who prefer using real bait, live shrimp impaled on a jig head or mud minnows or finger mullet are top winter offerings. Fiddler crabs or small pieces of fresh shrimp will fool the sheepies.

After a stormy and blustery Friday, conditions look pretty favorable for anglers hoping to get on the water this weekend. Saturday is expected to feature westerly winds about 10 knots, while it’ll swing to the northwest and increase slightly by Sunday. Moderate temperatures and sunny skies bode well for next week for anglers enjoying some holiday vacation time.

The quarter moon phase isn’t producing super low or high tides. The modest high will come after daylight and bottom out early in the afternoons. Expect a very high feeding activity window from first light until early- to mid-morning, followed by another high activity slot for the first hour or so of incoming water. The tidal difference will only be a little more than a foot of water, though.

All of us at Shields Marina wish you and yours happy holidays!