Offshore Shrinkage

If I could describe this winter in a single word it would have to be “shrinkage.” Our supply of fish in East central Florida sure has shrunk down and populations are suffering due to the cold.

What? You thought I meant what? Dude, get your mind out of the gutter! I was just trying to say that fishing has been tough lately because a lot of fish have died off and the ones left are basically hibernating. Jeeze.

Well, enough BS. Fishing is tough, no doubt, but there’s definitely hope in sight. It’s the beginning of March and as of yesterday we are starting to hear predictions of warm air temperatures in our near future. Today, March 10, it’s supposed to get up to 80 degrees for the first time in God knows how long. This will help fishing tremendously.

As it starts getting warmer, the first places to warm up will be the shallowest spots. Grassflats, mudflats, sandflats—pretty much any flats with 1-3 feet of water. Every morning it will probably be chilly, but as the sun rises up into the sky, that shallow water is gonna heat up and those fish know it. They’ll come out of the colder deeper water and move up shallow. And boy are they gonna be hungry. Reds and trout especially. These predators probably can’t wait to dig their dentures into some shallow-dwelling food such as shrimp, baby fish and little mud crabs.

So get out on the flats early on a really calm day. We’ll have some nice, calm days coming up in the next few weeks I’m sure, and those slick-calm days are the best for watching giant reds move up on the flats or looking for the swirling tail of a feeding seatrout. So take off work, drop your kids off with a stranger, play hooky from school—hey—a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do!

As far as offshore fishing goes, I’m so excited about the next two months I’m about to pee my pants. Seriously, we have so much to look forward to. The cobia are going to be coming up to that warm surface water any day now, the dolphin run should start around the end of April when the Gulf Stream moves in and hits 76 degrees, and grouper season opens up again in May. Hopefully they’ll open up red snapper season so we can bring a few of them home for dinner, but don’t get your hopes up. (But do sign one of the many petitions that are floating around!)

Kingfish have been thick off Sebastian, Canaveral and Ft. Pierce. If you can find any kind of live bait, preferably greenies, sardines, cigars, blue runners or mullet—you will catch a mess ‘o kings. Check out some hard bottom areas such as 8A reef and Pelican Flats out of Canaveral or Bethel Shoals, The Pines, or Thomas Shoal out of Sebastian.

Okay, back to the inshore scene. Call me crazy, but I’ve been doing a lot of diving in the lagoon lately because it’s been so darn clear. We’ve been snorkeling around docks and rock piles and spearing some nice, big sheepshead fo dinner. Mmmhmm. But that’s really all we’ve been seeing. Everything else must be hunkered down for the winter, but they will be back soon.

Oh shoot, I just got all excited for Spring. Gotta run.

Tight lines till next time,
Matt B

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