While fewer fishermen participate in the sport this time of
year, the winter season is often as productive as those with much
less frigid temps. Fish during cold weather have a tendency to
follow similar patterns year after year, returning to deep water
harbors, channels, etc that offer thermal protection from colder
temps near the surface. The same patterns, incidentally, can
also be found in the hottest days of summer where the deeper
waters offer relief from the scorching temps near the surface.
One factor that can make this season more challenging for
fishermen, though, are low tides caused by strong northers that
blow through on a fairly regular basis starting around midNovember and peaking in February. The winds often lay bare
vast expanses of tidal flats and expose reefs typically unseen
until this time of year. Many boat ramps also suffer from low
water often rendering many unlaunchable from by most boaters.
On such days, anglers with a kayak, airboat, or low water
running flats boat, can make the difference between being able
to fish or staying home. Any motor powered craft able to launch
from a low water ramp, can also let a kayak or two piggyback
for a trip into the backcountry, or at least a modest trip from the
ramp. Such tactics are covered by David Brown this issue in
his article titled “Low Water Wonderland (page 7).” One
consideration, however, when launching from a very low water
ramp, is the stage of the tide at the time you’re leaving the ramp.
While the tide might already be very low from a strong north
wind, it could even be going lower as the day progresses and
the tide naturally ebbs. Just take a look at a tide chart to see
what’s predicted. While a high tide might be delayed for several
hours or not occur at all, a low tide is going to occur although
the change may be less than predicted due to the lower water
conditions already at hand. This wouldn’t be big of a deal for
an airboat or kayaker that doesn’t necessarily need a ramp to
land. For a boat with an outboard, it might be a long wait for
enough water to float the boat to the trailer.
Cold water in bays that are normally
off color, means clear water to depths not
seen at any other time of the year. While
fishing crystal clear water is not
necessarily productive depending on where
you are, clear water on normally muddy
flats is a distinct advantage for sight
fishing. While the thrill of seeing clear
water on flats that are usually off color isn’t
even a consideration for fishermen in
typically perpetually clear waters such as
Florida or South Texas, it’s a big deal for
those not so fortunate. Take it from me as
someone who knows!
Good fishing this quarter and keep an
eye on the weather. This is not the time of
year to take unneccesary chances on the
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