This week has been no exception. Froze our cajones off at the Boondoggle and come home to a freeze, now today two days later I was sweating. The weather events of the last few years have us all wondering what is going on, the fish included.
This entire winter the fish in my hometown of Jacksonville, Fl have never completely gone into a winter pattern. Typically this is the only time of year that we get larger schools of cruising fish, roaming the flats in numbers over the dark mud bottoms staying warm. This pattern has been all but non existent except for the rare occasion and as soon as it starts it seems to be over.
This used to be my favorite time of year, next to the flooded grass spring tides, to fly fish for reds. High sun, low tides and small meal offerings are generally exactly what the reds are looking for. Much to my dismay I haven’t even found a school worthy of stalking with the buggy whip this winter.
Until recently I also used to follow the rule of small meal offerings for redfish religiously this time of year. I preferred small lures and flies over everything else in my tackle box. My favorites to give you an example of the size were the Yozuri flat crank to be worked slowly over just covered oyster bars, or an even smaller offering for those lowwwwww water cruising reds, with their backs half out of the water, of a Tiny Torpedo. You can sling this little morsel a long way on a 7’6″ med light with 6 to 10 pound braid and it lands lighter than a mayfly falling to its death on a trout stream. Place it in front of a cruising fish and give it a slight twitch engaging the prop ever so slightly and “its on like Donkey Kong.” Thank you Si Robertson for bringing that one back.
Its amazing what competition will due to even the snobbiest of lure snobs. Thanks to Kayak Wars I have started to throw cut bait at some of my old honey holes, a technique usually saved for novice clients and children. Then the extremely unusual happened which threw my marine biologist friends theory into a crumbled up piece of paper, that rimmed off the trash can onto the floor. You see he was convinced, and myself too, that a reds metabolism slowed so much in winter that they only needed to eat once every week or so because it took some time for them to need the energy from the food source. Then I caught this guy the other day on a large chunk of cut mullet, who proceeded to puke up a 8 inch mullet which was freshly consumed within the previous few hours. So not only did he eat a large meal, but he was eating again, throwing to waste 20 years of fishing knowledge on winter redfishing.
Leaving me to wonder if any of us truly know what we are doing, fish included!
Capt Sean Abbey
Overboard Fishing Rods, LLC