As we move into winter and beyond, the water temperature drops with each passing cold front. This weekly change provides a variety of opportunities. Tis’ the season to roll with the punches. If the weather is warmer, humid, pre- cold front; then we target the flats and creeks for snook, trout, and redfish. Banner days can be had with this strategy, and many of our legendary 100 fish days happen under this regime. However, if a front has recently passed the water temps will be on the decline. This slows the flats species or halts them altogether, but provides alternatives.
A great alternative in winter is sheepshead. This tasty fiesty species is always game no matter how cold it gets each winter. Target big structure with shrimp or small crabs/mussels for best results. Most of our catches in the winter are the big breeding fish, and they are very fun and challenging on light tackle.
Another winter alternative is Gag Grouper. For the inshore fisherman they truly are a fall/winter species. They feed aggressively at intervals and can be picky at other times. They respond well to pre-front low atmospheric pressure, but moon phase plays a roll too. A mixed strategy of trolling artificials near the bottom, live baits, and dead bait will be used at one time or another.
One of our fall favorites is the mighty Tripletail. We often associate this fish with being small but tough. That is until we are reminded every season just how big these things can get. A 10 to 15 pounds fish can put on an incredible display of power and humble the most skilled of anglers. They are a fun fish too, as they are basically target practice when they hang in place near the surface. A well placed small sardine or shrimp usually does the job. We recently had one big fish eat both baits that we cast at the same time, with 2 lady anglers sharing the fight.