Cold Weather Inshore Fishing

December 30, 2020
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Cold weather requires different fishing methods for warmer water. To catch fish, find areas slightly higher than surrounding areas, such as natural springs or coves. Spring-fed waters on outgoing tides pull warm waters out of rivers, while keys along east-west and northern shorelines provide cozy fishing spots. Patience is key, as low and slow lures can be rewarding, resembling a freshwater crappie bite.

In colder temperatures, fish metabolism slows down, making them less active and therefore harder to catch. This is especially true when water temperatures dip below 63°F. Fish in such conditions become lethargic and less inclined to expend energy on feeding. However, they still need to eat, and this is where strategic fishing comes into play.

Finding warmer pockets of water is crucial during cold snaps. Natural springs are ideal locations because they often release water that's a few degrees warmer than the surrounding areas. This slightly warmer water attracts fish seeking comfort and sustenance in the chilly environment. Saltwater species, particularly, may venture into these fresher, warmer waters temporarily during severe cold.

Another key area to focus on is where spring-fed waters meet outgoing tides in rivers. As these tides flow, they carry warmer spring water into the river, creating pockets of warmth that extend into coves and holes, all the way to the Gulf. These areas become temporary havens for fish seeking relief from the cold.

Geographical features like keys running east to west or northern shorelines also offer warmer conditions. The high mangroves or trees along these areas provide a natural barrier against cold northern winds. Additionally, these locations often receive direct sunlight during the midday, which helps raise the water temperature, creating ideal spots for fishing.

When fishing in cold weather, patience is indeed a key virtue. The use of lures requires a slow and deliberate approach. Since fish are less active, they are less likely to chase after fast-moving prey. Thus, a slow retrieval of the lure is more likely to entice a lethargic fish. The bite, when it happens, is often subtle – similar to the light nibble of a freshwater crappie. Detecting this light tick in the line requires keen senses and experience, but the reward of a successful catch is well worth the effort.

Furthermore, it's important to consider the type of lure and bait used during cold weather. Since fish are less likely to exert effort, baits that mimic the slow, easy movements of cold-water prey are more effective. Soft plastics, jigs, and slow-moving crankbaits can be particularly successful.

Lastly, it's important to dress appropriately for cold-weather fishing. Layering is key, as is waterproof and windproof outerwear. Keeping warm and dry not only ensures comfort but also safety during long hours by the water.

In summary, cold-weather fishing requires a blend of strategic location selection, patience, appropriate lure and bait selection, and proper attire. By understanding and adapting to the changed behaviors of fish in cold water, anglers can enjoy successful fishing experiences even in less-than-ideal conditions.

Capt. William Toney

Homosassa Inshore Fishing

Captain William Toney In The Spread, Instructor
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