Friday Fishing Report (1-28-22)
Weather effects on fishing
We have a new moon coming up Tuesday and some extremely cold conditions with a big front moving through tonight. Behind the front, we have a nice high pressure settling in with some confused conditions through the week allowing for a nice period of warming. We should see a strong bite the first half of the week as the weather stabilizes some and we have a warm up behind the extremely cold weekend. The cold weather will drive a lot of our fish up into canals, creeks, rivers, and into shallower waters on the flats. Afternoon periods will become a better time to get on the water as the sun has time to warm up some areas just enough to get fish moving and feeding. Look for those wind protected or sunbaked seawalls or coastlines. Deep pockets around shallow areas will hold the fish and slowest possible movements on lures will be key!
The redfish action this past week was steady around the area and many of the fish caught were hanging on those shallow water mangrove shorelines, grass flats, and around those sunbaked seawalls of the residential canals. The dark bay mud back in the residential canals and around the creeks, rivers and mangrove shorelines radiate heat especially in the later afternoon once the sun has a chance to bake it a bit. All it takes is for that to warm up a few degrees more than the surrounding area and it will attract and congregate bait, fish and produce a more active bite. Extremely slow-moving soft plastics or swim baits or the artificial shrimp were good options this past week. Live shrimp is a great option when the water starts getting this cold. Finally, cut bait especially when the waters get murky and stirred up. The smellier cut dead bait sitting on the bottom is an easy meal for a cold and lazy redfish or snook.
The snook action around the area has been a little more sporadic, but mostly concentrated back in the bay where they can find warmer; more consistent water temps. Like the redfish, these guys are looking to find anywhere warmer to try and get some reprieve from cooling water temps. They are also moving slowly and looking for ways to eat without expending much if any energy. Live shrimp, cut dead bait, or those super slow moving soft plastics with long pauses while working the lure across those pockets along shallow sun-drenched shorelines. Dock lines of residential canals are also hotspots and around dock lights at night. Keep in mind those under water lights, especially the older models do radiate some heat and that’s enough to excite and congregate predatory fish.
Trout action in the bay has been spotty to say the least as of late. A lot of places are showing signs of very weak trout numbers when we would expect heavy populations and good numbers. This is the time of year we should be seeing endless trout over the grass flats especially post cold fronts in shallower flats. However, we just don’t seem to have the concentrations of fish we would expect to see this time of year. You are able to find them, but much trickier to find high numbers of actively feeding fish. Also, much more likely to find them in areas that weren’t hard hit by that recent red tide event.
Flounder action has picked up a bit around the area. We are seeing these guys around the flats often in patches, potholes, and on the edges. Plus, around local structures like docks, piers, bridges, and jetties hanging on sandy bottom areas waiting to ambush passing baits. Look for them with live shrimp, mud minnows, or slow-moving soft plastics on or near the bottom.
The hogfish bite has been going well for us around the near shore waters fishing anywhere from around 40ft up to around 90ft. We are catching them still most often using the live shrimp and lighter 30lb leaders and minimal weights with around 3-4ot hooks. However, some are getting them on even heavier tackle especially with the more stirred up waters this makes them much less leader shy and picky. Look for them on those smaller ledges, areas of hard bottom, and even that shell bottom adjacent to the ledges, rock piles and hard bottom areas.
Lane snapper have been really thick lately around 70-100ft of water near shore, but we are seeing them shallower too. However, the deeper you get the more concentrated and prolific they get. We are catching them most often on squid, shrimp, and small pieces of threadfin on lighter tackle.
Mangrove snapper have been consistent near shore lately out deeper like the lane snapper, however, like lane snapper we are seeing them here and there shallower but if you can get out there to more like 80-100ft we are seeing much more steady and bigger fish. Some mangroves near shore closer to 100ft are as big as 6-7lbs which is extremely large for our near shore waters. Not a ton of them, but we are seeing a much larger overall size right now. Plus, the more stirred up conditions are making them more aggressive and much less leader shy and picky.
Red grouper action has been spotty near shore, but we are finding them here and there in the deeper near shore waters around the lanes and mangrove depths. However, they are not super prolific until we get offshore into much deeper waters. The ones we are finding are biting on the squid strips, whole threadfins, or the live pinfish. Occasionally you will get one on shrimp or smaller cut bait but most often it’s the undersized versions using smaller baits.
We were unable to get offshore into the deeper waters this past week with weather conditions. However, we know those fat red grouper are thick out there around that 100-120ft mark. That is where we will be focused in the coming two months with the deep-water grouper spawning closure. For February and March, we are unable to keep any grouper species if you’re beyond the 20 fathom closure line which is 120ft of water. This means often we will fish beyond 120ft of water to start trips like our 39 hours or 44 hours to get the mangrove snapper at night then bounce in shallower for the sunrise and daytime fishing inside the ‘fence’ where we are able to keep those red grouper fishing 100-120ft of water for the remainder of the trip.
Keep in mind, you can fish deeper than the ‘fence’ or closure line, but you cannot have any grouper on your boat when out there. So, if you want to fish deeper, start there not keeping any grouper and then bounce shallower to try and target and keep those red groupers and scamp grouper.
Pelagic bite has been a little soft lately due to stirred up water conditions. However, if we get some reprieve from that offshore the blackfin tuna bite should be extremely hot this time of year especially around this new moon with lots of currents moving, bait moving and lots of muddier waters.