During these big cold fronts my favorite lure is a medium shrimp on the lightest jighead I can use that will just keep the bait on the bottom during my ultra-slow retrieve.
Too heavy a jig will foul the shrimp by forcing it down into the vegetation. Our crew is using, long 15-20 pound leaders with 1/16 to 1/8 ounce standup jigheads. It keeps the shrimp upright as I ever so slowly and slightly hop and rest, hop and rest my shrimp back to the boat. Don't be afraid to let the bait sit on bottom for 30 seconds or more before the next twitch or hop. Patience and super slow retrieves win.
Bite off the shrimp's fantail and rig it so that the shrimp is retrieved backwards. This does three things. Allows the hook rigging, lets the shrimp bleed or put off scent into the water, and causes the shrimp to not spin on the cast. They can be rigged hook exposed, or Texas worm rig style, burying the hook in the shrimp for a weedless presentation.
Capt. George Tunison
Here again the line watcher scores as some hits cause only a slight "tic" or subtle movement in the line signaling a hit as that cold and sluggish 25-pound snook inhales your bait. If a winter redfish comes along then it's a no-brainer as cold has less effect on these tough guys that never pass up an easy meal. Use Hi-viz yellow lines to up your score as the fish don't care about line color, just fishermen.
Sheepshead are here so get your electric fillet knife warmed up for these tasty jailbirds. Causeway piers, phosphate docks at Boca Grande, or basically any structure will hold these guys that can get big (over 10 pounds), and that are masters of bait thievery.
The Florida Sportsman Expo is Feb 1-2 at the Lee Civic Center. This is a great event featuring "show specials" on tackle, electronics, and general fishing gear. The offshore and inshore seminars are usually top notch and the novice to pro angler can always pick up tips and techniques from the pros and factory reps in attendance. Some of these seminars are lengthy, so bringing a small notebook will help you remember relevant information that you can apply on your next outing.
On your next fishing trip use that same notebook to record all the cuts, channels, humps, bumps, ditches, bars, deep points, and deep holes revealed by our cold water period, negative tides (very low water). All of these are potential hotspots we drive over during summer's high water, and never fish, are now plainly visible for you to record with notes, GPS and cameras. Go to Goggle Earth to add more knowledge to your base.
Bass pros coined the phrase "the spot on the spot," simply meaning once on your spot or fishing area that you believe fish to be in, there is a sweet spot or something different or attractive to the fish that will draw or concentrate them. It may be current break, a slight depth change, structure, overhead cover, or a combination of factors.
On a 12-inch deep flat that you know holds fish a 20-inch deep, 20- foot long ditch can be a fish magnet. This extra depth seems inconsequential, but can be a total game changer. This same little underwater ditch on a relatively featureless flat can hold a pod of 50-pound tarpon or a school of trout. Once found, your new hotspot can be fished successfully season after season, during both high and low water conditions. Share them or keep them secret, now's the time to take a little time from your fishing and spend time looking.
With limited time and obscene gas prices the goal is max bang for your buck. Successful anglers are prepared and knowledgeable about their quarry, tides, weather effects, tackle, terrain, and seasonal movements.