By Capt. Brylee
Special to the Pioneer
Our winter has been unusually warm with very little freezing temperatures and no lengthy periods of cold weather.
This will create a bit of confusion for the fish and their normal patterns of habitat. When normally the fish have found deeper waters, ran up into the rivers and off the flats or just found muddy bottoms around docks or shorelines, they now are acting more like they would if it were already spring or even fall.
This can be a bit troublesome for the angler who is stuck in the seasonal mindset of this is where they are this time of year. Reports the last several weeks have been catching inshore fish on the flats in waters ranging from 3 to 8 feet in depth. Many fish species all over Florida are reacting much the same and with the warm waters are acting much more the way they do in spring and fall. While water temperature is a big factor in depicting the location of the fish’s habitat, natural spawning seasons will as well. The biggest difference being they may begin their spawn a little earlier. This increases their feeding habits as well as territorial instincts. This increases the number of bites you can get.
During the warm winters we still get low water temperatures during the night. Fishing the sunny side of the structure or area you are in will help you stay in the warmest waters increasing your chances of fish lurking. The east side of docks, bridges and jetties are warmed first as this is the first side to see the sun.
Days you have a low tide in the early hours of the morning will also allow water temperatures to rise faster than that on a high tide. Plan your fishing days to accommodate the sun and the tides at times the water temperature is the warmest. Even with the outside temperatures reaching the eighties the water temperature is still in the sixties so many fish will be under and around the docks and bridges during much of the day. It is always a good place to start early in the morning.
In shore reports have done well with both using live shrimp and jigs and on still waters, top water plugs have even been successful.
Please obey all state and local laws and remember to catch and release. Good luck catching.