So, since our last post and report, it finally became winter. Still not a bad winter, but in the creeks the water temperature is now down below 50F, at least on the surface. So, this changes the fishes behavior and therefore the tactics you must use to catch them. I’m gonna break down some tactics between redfish and trout. I’ll start with redfish, specifically creek redfish. Most people are familiar with schooled up reds in gin clear water on the flats. That’s another article but not this one.
Redfish in the Cold Creeks
In the really cold water, you will find redfish on deep structure. And often times if you find one you will find 7 or 8 stacked together and very willing to eat. Good places to look are submerged trees on creek bends. Ralph has suggested that reds may be feeding on marine worms that bed into the timber. For this reason, trout tricks work really well this time of year, especially the original “mood ring” color probably since they resemble a worm. Now, you will lose a lot of jigs fishing this way but that’s where the fish are. The closer you can get to the timber the better your chances.
You’ve probably heard over and over at seminars… fish slow. If you think you are fishing slow enough, fish slower, etc, etc. Well, I’m gonna give you an example of what that means. So, let’s assume you are on some deep structure and maybe had a bite and missed it. So we know the fish are there. Try casting out, letting the bait fall to the bottom, then a very, very small hop, hop, hop on the bottom. Maybe 2 inches at a time. It’s just a slight flutter of the rod tip. If you have a good rod, reel, and line setup, you will be able to feel the lure hopping over rocks and shells on the bottom. Then you will feel something weird. That’s the bite. DON’T set the hook immediately. This is what I do: “3…2…1..” then slowly pull back then set the hook. Why? The reds this time of year will suck the bait in slow then keep it in their mouth. If you’re losing a lot of fish after the set, you’re probably doing it too fast. In a lot of ways, its like a flounder bite. Give it a try. It works!
Trout in the Cold Creeks
Trout, of course, are a different species. You will also find them among structure on creek bends, but this time of year you will often find them in the deeper parts of the creeks – many times not near any structure at all. Bends are obvious places, but where else might they be? In the very center of the creek (deepest points). Instead of running your boat down the middle casting to structure, hug the bank and cast across the deep middle. A killer bait this time of year is the modern version of Ralph’s semi-famous “rat-tail”. The Z-Man 3.75″ StreakZ in Ralphs Shad color is the ticket. Let the bait get to the bottom of the hole, sometimes up to 16 feet deep. This seems like an eternity. Cast out and watch the line on the water. You will see when it hits bottom. Then work very small hops and wait for the slight *tick*. That’s the fish. They will even hit a non-moving lure. The Z-Man again is our choice because the ElaZtech keeps the tail floating up.
Fishing this weekend I kicked myself for not taking a photo of trout on the bottom as seen through my Humminbird sounder. We slowly drifted a hole and I was watching the graph. A smooth bottom then a few “rocks”. Those are trout. My buddy Ray cast up current from them and let it drop. *tick*….he missed it but brought back the tell-tale sign of a missed trout: A tail curled around the hook. It’s pretty cool “sight-fishing” for deep water trout with your fish finder. I circled back to get a pic of the graph, but the fish had scattered.
A Note on Water Clarity
Often we hear over and over, “To catch trout, look for clear water”. That is absolutely true in the summer. But what about winter? Did you know that water can be TOO clear? It can. In fact, we search out slightly dirtier water for trout fishing in the deep winter. We still want 1 – 3 feet of vis, but not 8 – 10. It really makes a difference.
Hope this was of some help! Let us know if you have any questions and as always thanks for your support.
Our Z-Man branded Trout Eye jigs are really getting traction. We have been in both Bass Pro and Cabela’s saltwater catalogs and a lot of interest at the recent Big Rock show in Raleigh, NC. Z-Man has said there are probably no shops east of I95 in NC that don’t stock them.
We are working on a bunch of new product ideas and can’t wait to reveal them. It will be a few months yet, but they are in the works.
Come on our to the Haddrell’s Point Shallow Water Fishing Expo on Feb 27-28. We will be assisting Z-Man in their booth and would love to talk Trout Eye jigs and fishing with you.
How about this whopper caught by Danny Phillips in a farm pond yesterday!