Capt. Rick Davidson, Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fishing Report DECEMBER 2021
We hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday season. Things were hopping around the marina, with people taking advantage of the relatively mild weather so far this winter. We had one cold snap that brought some trout into the river, but I expect more of that to come, so in the forecast there’s some information about fishing for trout in cold water. Offshore fishing was excellent this month, with lots of gag grouper, and some long trips to the middle grounds provided some massive grouper. The water temps kept the redfish active this month, and trout were caught both on the flats and in the river. Here are some pics from this month’s catches.
To view a full-sized version of an image, simply click on any one of these smaller versions!
Fishing Forecast JANUARY 2022
For many, mid-winter means fishing the Steinhatchee River for trout. With bitter cold temps on the flats, trout need to find warmer water. Just a degree or two will make a difference, and the river provides deep water that is a distance from the cold air temperatures. I’ve posted hints about fishing in the river, but if you fish a lot at Steinhatchee, you’ll notice that most of the guides don’t fish in the river. The reason is that winter can be one of the best times of the year to find schools of larger trout outside the river. These bigger fish are not usually caught in the deep parts of the river. So where are these larger fish? They’re outside the river.
Weather and tides are crucially important for winter fishing, and so is safety. This is the time of year of low daytime tides; it’s not unusual to have negative tides during the day. Trying to run in the Steinhatchee area, with multiple sand bars, rocky areas and oyster bars, can be hazardous if you don’t know a little about the area. Plan ahead by looking at tide tables and marine forecasts and try to find days with afternoon high tides. Consider getting a guide if you are not familiar with the area, but you can also get a Sea Hag rental boat and get some tips from the Sea Hag staff about where to run. This time of year, just as in the river, water temperature differences of a degree or two can make a huge difference. On morning low tides, rocks and bars are exposed. As the sun rises, these shallow areas are heated and when the tides come in, that heat is maintained in the area. That’s why you will see mullet and trout concentrated around rocky areas on high tides, and those are the areas you should fish. There are great concentrations of these exposed rocks in the Rock Point area to the north and Sand Point, Hardy Point and Tater Island areas to the south. Don’t try to approach any of these areas directly but work your way into shore idling very carefully or drift with the tide. Because fish are cold-blooded, they are not very active in winter and they won’t chase bait or lures very vigorously, so fish everything slower than you think you should, and then cut that speed in half. Fish suspending lures (we particularly like the Paul Brown Corky Devil, Bass Assassin Salty Snacks, and Live Target Sardines, but unweighted plastic jerk baits and light swim baits will work well, as will floating crankbaits like the Cotton Cordell) and retrieve them very very slowly, just enough to keep them above the rocks. Fishing live shrimp under corks and just floating them over rocky areas is also very productive. We catch large fish in as little as 2 feet of water. Trout will be in schools; when you catch one fish, you are likely to catch others until the school moves. When the bite stops, move around until you find them again. Almost all these fish caught outside of the river will be keepers, unlike the smaller fish in the river. At times you’ll have to cull larger fish as we’re only allowed to keep one trout over 19 inches.
When the tide is up, work your way into creeks that may hold redfish and trout. Fish deeper holes, which are frequently around bends in creeks, and remember to fish slow. Dallus Creek and Clay Creek to the north, and Porpoise Creek, Rocky Creek and Sink Creek to the south will all hold good fish this winter.
There are tournaments every weekend this January. The Florida Elite Tournament is on the 8th, the Gainesville High School Fishing Club fundraiser is on the 15th, the Santa Fe High School baseball fundraiser is on the 22nd, and the Power Pole Pro Tournament is on the 29th. For more information about these tournaments, just call the Sea Hag Marina.
Hopefully you got some great boating and fishing tackle for Christmas, and this month can be a great time to try it out. Our rental boats are a great way to get introduced to the area, but hiring one of our excellent guides is an even easier way to learn about winter fishing. Let’s have a great 2022 and catch a bunch of fish!