Otto Hough (Facebook @myhometownfishing) says, ”Wintertime fishing patterns are beginning to shape up along the Big Bend coast. That pattern will produce significant early morning low tides during the new and full moon phases over the next four months. Plus, cold water temps have settled in across Apalachee Bay until springtime warming returns. The drop in flats water temps into the mid-to-upper 50s has hastened the winter migration of flats fish into the warmer rivers and the deeper creek holes as they seek out warmer winter haunts.
This four day Thanksgiving holiday stretch will experience strong new moon negative early morning tides along the entire Big Bend coastline. Lots of “real” Florida, as well as coastal rock piles east of St. Marks on beyond Hickory Mound will be exposed for all to see. It’s a good time to take a little early morning time to mark some of those rocks and normally submerged oyster bars on the GPS for future reference when early springtime flats fishing returns.
Over this four day holiday stretch, thanks to FWC, red snapper season will be open at 12:01a.m. Thanksgiving, running till midnight Sunday. Though winds and seas won’t be the best at times, there should be a few windows of opportunity for those anglers with larger boats chasing red snapper. For the small boat anglers, targeting the trout and reds in the deep holes, cuts and creek drains found in the Big Bend rivers should produce well given strong tidal flows.
As for the “new” river fish, all the species are hungry for any live bait presentation they encounter. The preferred wintertime offering by most anglers targeting the trout, reds, and sheepshead is a lively shrimp, rigged either on a Carolina rig or tipped on a 1/8th or 1/4th jighead, dependant on the current.
That shrimp shouldn’t last long before garnering attention. A favorite of mine is to work the river holes and deep bar cuts with a Mirrolure Heavy Dine, both the smaller 18MR as well as the much larger XL model, or toss a slow suspending Rip-n-Slash 70s around the fringes of the rock piles and bar cuts. If fishing the Aucilla or Econfina, I prefer the MirroDines in the “808” color pattern or a burnt orange color scheme on the Rip-n-Slash 70s.
In the St. Marks and Wakulla, those same MirroDine lures in a pink/chartreuse pattern are producing well. As always, I will start by slow trolling the rivers with a gold/orange bellied Bomber Long A till I secure those first couple of good fish from a hole or cut, then I’ll run back above the spot to slow drift across the hole while working a HeavyDine. If it’s not overly productive, I will return to my slow trolling method to locate a deeper spot holding larger numbers of fish.
Remember, with the tidal flows the depths in the river holes are constantly changing and the fish are moving with those tides, both coming and going.
Boating safety this time of year becomes far more important than ever as extremely colder water temps in the 50s can lead to hypothermia all too quickly should an accidental immersion occur. Personally, I’ve been there. Fortunately, wearing an auto-inflatable PFD. So again, wear an auto-inflatable PFD as well as warmer fishing apparel. Boat safely over Thanksgiving holidays while enjoying a tug or two on the line. Just FISH!
ST GEORGE ISLAND
Captain Russ Knapp (850-653-5072) reports, “The forecast for the weekend as of Wednesday afternoon at the NWS website is in the “low confidence” mode, but if it holds it may be a good weekend to stay on the hill. Current forecast has winds Saturday at SW 15 to 20 knots with seas 2 to 4 feet in the morning building to 4 to 6 in the afternoon while Sunday is even worse with seas running 5 to 7 feet .
The cause of all this lovey weather is yet another cold front cruising in so look for a chance of rain Saturday afternoon and be sure to recheck the forecast before you load up and head out . The good news is the tides look pretty good at the Cut with Saturday having a 10:30 AM low falling to -0.6 feet followed by a 1.4 ft high tide at 7:30 PM while Sunday is pretty much the same just add an hour to the time.
In the bay this week, Capt. Dan Fortunas (850 980 0101) is catching nice Silver/White Trout and Whiting fishing on the hard bottom just West of the low rise of the SGI bridge. Look for the boats and fish orange/shrimp “fish bites” on a small circle hook with a light weight for a tasty fish dinner.
The Sheepshead are hanging out around the bridge pilings and are waiting for you to offer them a live Fiddler crab fished on small circle hood with lightest weight you can get away with. An “old school” trick is to bring a shovel along and scrape the barnacles off the pilings which chums the Sheepshead up to you bait. There have been reports of schools of slot Redfish cruising the beach and one angler even caught a nice Pompano much to his surprise.
As we have said before no self-respecting Redfish can turn down a nice piece of fresh Mullet but fresh Shrimp should work well also. Things at the Cut have been either off or on with the first rise or first fall of the tide having the best bite.
Offshore, it’s the last Red Snapper weekend of the year but honestly, unless you have a “big boat” or the forecast changes a lot the smart and safe thing to do is wait for next year as it’s not worth losing your boat or your life for a fish.
Tip of the week — Florida Sportsmen has a great article about bridge fishing for Sheepshead with lots of information that will work well both for fishing from a bridge or from a boat. If you don’t get their E mail look for “How to Perfect your Sheepshead Pier Fishing” by Matt Stevens 10/18/21.
Capt. Pat McGriff, ([email protected]) reports, “Trout fishing has been fantastic this week. I had Blake Odom and father-in-law , Johnny Jackson out last Friday and we had ten trout several caught on Assassin’s Salty Snack in the Pink Ghost pattern and a couple on Catch Juniors in Glow and White /red head.
Saturday the Jackson Five were on board including Noel and his two boys, Clay and Will who joined Blake and Grandpa ( J.J. Jackson) from Opp, Alabama and we brought back 25 trout all caught on live shrimp under Back Bay Thunders from 1.9’ to 3.2’.
Monday, I had Don Garner and Joe Stubbs of Valdosta, Ga. and we caught all our trout ( over 30) on live shrimp and half of the keepers on Assassin’s Pink Ghost Salty Snacks rigged on a Slayer swim bait 1/16 oz. hook.
Wednesday I had Marcus Owen of Tifton, Ga. and Matt and Raina Worthington from Rome, Ga. and we caught a limit of trout and threw back 13 keepers including 5 over 19” … again on live shrimp under Back Bay Thunders from 2.2 to 3.8 feet of water.
Capt. Kevin Lanier of KC Sportfishing Mexico Beach, Fl (850 933 8804) reports” As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday fishing continues to be incredible for those willing to brave the cold. Morning temperatures have been in the low forties and high thirties for the last 7 days. Redfish fishing has been off the charts with many big bulls being caught and released.
Pictured is Sydni Booth of KCSportfishing with a big Redfish. Definitely over the slot but still a great fight. The fish was released. There are some slot fish but mostly big ones up to 44 inches. Live finger mullet is your best bet for catching these either free lined or with a small weight. Fishing them under a float will work as well. Early in the day is best when its sunny.
Offshore continues to produce when you can get out. Winds have been a major factor in the area. As happens every year these cold fronts come through about every 5 days and push the mind and cold weather across the area.
BIG BEND/PANHANDLE KAYAK
Salt Strong coach Matt Lanier, ([email protected]) tells us, ” I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family, friends and loved ones, stuffing your faces until your heart was content! Now, with full bellies, it’s time to start looking to other important things… like the fish in those yonder waters!
This past week has been a bit breezy, making it tough to get on the water some days, but the fish haven’t stopped their feeding activity! The bite is on fire right now, so this would be a great time to hit the water!
There will be a negative tide this weekend, so pay attention to the safe running zones so that you aren’t stranded for hours waiting on water to get mobile again.
Fish are feeding heavily as they are looking to fatten up right before we get into these long colder months when their metabolism slows down. That means it’s a good time to be on the water wetting a line.
You can still find fish in their Fall patterns, and their related ambush points. Points, drains, feeder creeks, and even docks with good current flow, are great places to look to target for our favorite inshore species. But as we have this negative tide this weekend, look to target deeper areas in the bottom portion of the tide swing.
Redfish will be found around oyster bars or hard bottom near shallow areas where the heat will hold better in the cooler days. Be sure to use a weedless presentation (like a Hoss Helix Hook) when fishing the oysters though, as hang-ups and break-offs can be frustrating!
Trout will be holding at depth changes and deeper structure while feeding. Find the current coming around points and feeder creeks and creek mouths, and you can find the fish. Paddletails are a great option to use to target these speckled fish. Be sure to use the appropriate weight to get your bait down in the water column where those fish are. Popping corks with shrimp imitation or paddletails are working well on the flats for trout as well.
Redfish may still hold shallower early in the mornings and move around some as the water temps warm up some in the afternoon, and with all the shrimp that is in the water now, a live or artificial shrimp (like the Salt Strong Power Prawn, or VooDoo Shrimp) is a great option.
During this fall pattern these fish are typically dialed in on larger presentations and baits, so larger size paddletails like the Salt Strong Bomber are great options as they do a great job of matching-the-hatch with the bait they are feeding on. A bonus is, when throwing big baits, you get BIG fish!
Some fish, redfish, trout, and even sheepshead, are already being found up in the rivers as well, and we will continue to see more in that area as the temps continue to drop in the upcoming weeks and months.
Topwater can still produce great in the morning and even into the afternoon on those calm days, so be sure to throw those favorite topwater lures (Moonwalker, Skitter Walk, One Knockers) with that enticing walk-the-dog action for those big fish looking for an easy meal.
If you find yourself on the water and fishing in a spot where you haven’t gotten a bite for the last 15 minutes… it’s time to move. Keep looking for the 90/10 zone where those fish are holding. Don’t waste time in unproductive areas. The fish are moving and so should you!
To get the kids on some fish quickly, a live shrimp or GULP! under a popping cork around creek mouths and grass lines is a solid producer of fish. And the best part is you never know what you’ll catch, because everything eats shrimp… EVEN ME!
If you plan on getting out this weekend, always make sure you check (and double check) your gear and the weather. But most importantly… STAY SAFE, STAY WARM, & HAVE FUN!
Capt. Paul Tyre reports, “As we enter into November the Bass, Crappie and Stripers / Hybrid fishing should be very good! The water temperature is in the mid to upper 60’s and the Flint River and Chatahooche River arms of the lake are clear due to the lack of rains. Spring Creek is clear.
The Bass fishing on Lake Seminole has been very good this week! With the cloudy weather the top water bite has been good, lures like Frogs and Buzzbaits have worked well. The water temperature is averaging in the low to mid 70’s and the bait fish are moving shallow. The Fall is a great time for Bass fishing Lake Seminole as the Bass feed up for the winter.
The Stripers and Hybrids are still schooling on the main lake and in the Spring Creek arm of the Lake. Buck tail jigs and spoons have been productive on the Hybrids and Stripes.
The Crappie fishing has been very good so far and the BIG Crappie are biting!
For a Lake Seminole Fishing Adventure give me a call to check availability at 850-264-7534 , follow us on Instagram @ Capt.paultyrefishing or email me @ [email protected]
FV BOATSTICKS reports, “Crappie fishing on Lake Talquin is really picking up with multiple limits reported this past week. The main river is holding the largest concentrations of fish. Trolling continues to be the best option for covering water. 1mph is the speed most target. Pull your jigs with the current for best results. A fish finder is recommended to find fish quicker. Look for the bait, crappie won’t be far behind. Always troll with your bait higher than the fish.