Native Sons Fishing Guides, Central Florida & Indian River Lagoon Fishing Charters

December 31, 2007 – Winter Wonderland

We do not experience what many would picture as a winter wonderland along the central east coast of Florida (near Orlando) from late December through early February. There is not even a remote chance of snow, sleet or blizzard. However, even though we do have our share of cooler temperatures, gray skies and windy days, the fishing can continue to be dreamlike nonetheless … dreamlike provided we adapt to the conditions and change our fishing locations, species, tactics and patterns accordingly.

One of the unique aspects to winter in our waters is the rapid changes in the habits of our fish, even during the course of one day. For example, yesterday I guided out of Titusville (35 miles east of Orlando) a trio from the frozen tundra of Canada, Lou, Dennis and Ericka. After finally finding bait balled-up in a deep canal, we proceeded to a slightly depressed area along a shoreline. This was located near the bait-filled deep canal and, along with ample ambush points, provided a perfect point for the game fish to wait for the finger mullet to migrate when the sun finally broke through and warmed the water. In the two pictures below, notice the heavy clothing worn by our crew during the cooler morning portion of the trip.

It was nearly noon before the fog lifted and the water finally began to warm. By this time, the schools of bait had flooded the flats and brought the hungry predators into the shallows. The fish pictured below were found in the afternoon, roaming in water less than two feet deep in an area where the grass flats are punctuated by sandy potholes. (This was on the same day as the photos above – note the difference in sky, sun, water surface and clothing)

Winter also brings us a different mix of species. Redfish and trout remain the solid staple of our inshore fishery. This time of year they are joined by black drum and pompano. Our most tropical species, such as snook and tarpon, require a warmer environment and either migrate south or push deep inland into the canals, creeks and rivers feeding our main waterways. However, we may still find a few of these fish in their summer haunts like the snook hooked on Christmas day in the Titusville area (35 miles east of Orlando). (Pictured below is Crystal with a small black drum caught recently in the Melbourne/Sebastian area – 55 miles southeast of Orlando)

During extended periods of very cold days (usually three to four days in a row), our fish generally struggle to keep warm by slipping into the deepest troughs available. This packs the fish into smaller confines and can make for some awesome fishing … provided you know where to look for them and what to do when you find them.

The bottom line for winter fishing in our area is adapt, adapt, adapt! The patterns so predictable last month may prove so fruitless the next. The tactics proved so deadly last week may be so ineffective the next. The locations where fish were so plentiful in the morning may become a desert by afternoon. Winter fishing can be wonderful if you are able to adapt, adapt, adapt.

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