Dead of Winter Fishing on Florida's Gulf Coast

January 17, 2023
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Fishing in late winter is unpredictable due to weather events. Anglers should return to areas with deep water access, such as creeks and rivers, to catch fish. Studying outside keys with protective coves can also help find warm water. Live shrimp is the best bait, and patience is key in cold water.

Fishing in the dead of winter can be a roller coaster ride of weather events that can turn the fish on or off just like a light switch. The tough days are during a cold front and the next few days after but when the wind switches around to the south us anglers are back in business. By this stage of winter, mid-January, most game fish have acclimated to the winter fronts and are ready to move if it gets cold.

For the in close fishing around the major creeks and rivers I tend to go back to the same spots where I caught them last. Those spots have one thing in common and its access to deep water, whether it be a hole, canal or dark water channel, it's where fish will ride out the cold nights until the sun warms the shallow edges. Using a shallow running plug or soft plastic on the edges of the deep water will get the bite.

Other methods of finding warm water is to study the outside keys. Keys that run east and west have a south side that will block a cool north wind but also collect the southern sun in the protective coves. Dark bottom on a protective cove will be warm, the fish know it and you will too. You may have to peel a layer of cloths off to cool down. These areas are often good for redfish and they will blend in by staying still, so slow going is the best bet and sometimes just staking out and being patient pays of. Live shrimp is the best bait. Be patient and let the fish find it. Remember in cold water, scent does not carry far.

Captain William Toney

Homosassa Inshore Fishing

Captain William Toney In The Spread, Instructor
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