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High winds and rough seas have made it very difficult for off shore anglers over the past weeks. While some of the more ambitious anglers may have gone out most have chosen to stay in shore or not go at all.
In shore fishing has still shown results for trout, redfish and sheepshead. With water temperatures in the fifties you may find the trout and reds moving into the rivers and channels feeding into the gulf. Deep cuts and points where two rivers or creeks meet are a good starting point to find trout and oyster laid bottoms and beds are best for redfish.
The cold waters have pushed a lot of the bait fish into deeper waters so cast netting for pinfish will be difficult. Live shrimp are great to use if the winds allow the shrimper to work. Cold waters and the lack of in shore bait may be a great time to use artificial baits. Gold spoons and jigs work well as well as live or frozen shrimp under a popping cork. If using frozen shrimp try peeling the shell off its body. This will allow the fish to not only hit a softer meat it will smell more natural to the fish.
In shore sheepshead can be found around bridges and piers munching on the barnacles and oysters attached to their pylons. To increase your luck in catching sheepshead use a small gapped hook such as a Cutting Edge which is strong enough to penetrate their boney mouths.
Fiddler crabs and sand fleas are good baits to use when targeting sheepshead. You can find fiddler crab running along the shore line in almost every place the bay meets land. Low tide will be the best time to grab them up. Sand fleas can be found in most bait shops and pier stores. Patience setting your hook is important as you need to allow time for the sheepshead to crunch the shell and penetrate the meat inside and ultimately your hook.
Fresh water anglers should be in full crappie mode now as the speckled perch are in full feeding mode preparing for their spawning season in early spring. Specks will be found in deeper waters now suspended in schools. Drifting with baits at multiple depths is the best way to find speck and minnows and fresh water grass shrimp are the best baits.
In addition to the specks preparing for the beds, bass are either hiding in thick cover or feeding in the shallows right now preparing to bed as well. The overcast winter days and winds will create a greater need for flashy baits like spinners. The blades on the spinners are designed to dupe the fish into seeing bait fish such as large minnows and shiners.
Choose blades that are shaped most like the size bait fish that are natural to the area you are fishing. The fish are in shallow waters making their visibility better so presentation is everything. As the fish become slower in the cold waters so should your retrieve. The retrieve should be as slow as the action on your spinner will allow. You may find yourself having to almost taunt and tease the bass to make them hit, and expect a less violent hit than you get in spring and summer.
Please obey all state and local laws and remember to catch and release. Good luck catching.