Fishing north of my home waters has been stellar for redfish and spotted sea trout over the last month as the water temperature remain on the chilly side. Typically, the third day after a cold front is when we start to see stabilizing weather and is when the fish start to put the feed bags on. When the water temperature is dropping throughout the day (and of course at night), fish head for semi-deeper water which allows them to acclimate. Metabolic rates revolve around temperature swings and sometimes all it takes is a degree to trigger an appetite!

The three main types of food fish feed on in the winter months are crabs, shrimp, and worms. All of which reside on the bottom and a relatively small. When presenting a pattern to a fish, it’s imperative the fly reaches the bottom before any action is applied in my experience. Every once in a while there is that “kamikaze” fish that would have devoured anything in front of it’s path but the secret is watching the fish’s body language. Most of my winter flies are tied on #4’s and #2’s and find that any smaller can risk hook up ratio’s due to the gap being too small. Using a little larger hook allows for us to use less weight therefore quieting the entry of our fly. Leader length’s are anywhere in between 10 to 12 feet with about a 60% ratio of fluorocarbon which also aids in bringing the fly lower in the column.

There has been a dramatic difference in cooperation from the fish when we compare fishing around new moon vs full moons. Full moon fish are feeding all night and sitting around all day (digesting) which also makes them hyper sensitive to any subtleties in their environment. New moon fish are forced to wait for sunlight to feed and times revolve around tidal cycles and solunar periods!


West Central Florida Restorative

Fishing in and around Tampa bay has been on the decline for the past couple years following the red tide in 2021. It used to be a common occurrence to see a group of a hundred redfish and now I feel lucky to see ten together. Unfortunately, after 3 millions pounds of fish were removed and a small 6 month closure, everything was reopened as if nothing happened. Now we’re paying the price and nothing in the bay area appears to be improving.

West central Florida is in trouble after a red tide that took a toll that none of us have ever seen. The red tide was so thick in some areas that it would prevent sunlight from reaching the floor therefore killing the sea grass. An algae bloom of this magnitude took such a toll that it impacted fish stocks from Sarasota bay all the way up to Tarpon Springs and all of Tampa Bay. Recovery time is a necessity for the preservation of our resource and with a re-open to harvest all inshore species, it won’t be possible.

The red tide in 2018 created by the blue-green algae dump out of the Caloosahatchee river from Lake Okeechobee was/is a catastrophic event. Following the event, FWC closed the harvest of any inshore species for what seemed like 5 years. This gave the ecosystem a chance to rebound/recover and the fishery now is doing better because of the closure. There is without a doubt, a larger problem at hand, being water quality and the whole state is feeling it. Let’s let nature do her thing.

Please SHARE and SIGN. The next FWC Commission meeting is 2/21 and 2/22/23 location TBD.