Inshore fishing in the cooler months along the Atlantic coast is significantly different than the warmer months of summer and early fall. Tactics, strategies, and most of all your bait selections have to change if you want to take advantage of what the winter fishing season has to offer.
The best bait options are considerably different than those we use on those warmer days. The bait choices need to change in unison with the cooler water temps due to the migration of most bait fish swimming around. The movements of inshore species like Redfish, Flounder, and Speckled Trout are slower. The size of your baits is the first thing you need to change. Smaller is better. Something along the size of glass minnows works well. The new Z Man Salty Ned Shrimp Z bait has proven to be a successful bait for me in the past few weeks. The size is perfect for fishing the cooler water. Another one of my favorites is the Z Man TRD Worm. It also is the right size with many color choices. Other choices are 2 ½-inch to 3-inch jerk baits. You can also use mud minnows if they’re available, or even cut bait or frozen bait left over in your freezer. Make sure you spray your baits with a scent. It’s crucial to catching the slow-moving fish’s attention.
I prefer to fish the low water and shallow areas. This is where the water gets warmer up in the day and the fish will be looking for food. Remember that the water is more clear than in the summer months and the fish can see you coming sooner than on those warm days. That means expanding your distance of casting. Also, make sure you slow down your retrieve since the fish are sluggish.
Just because the weather is cooler doesn’t mean that your fishing and catching has to stop. Make these easy changes and you’ll be surprised what will happen. Just keep in mind the fish are somewhat less responsive, so give them a small bait and plenty of time to take it. Fish hard and stay warm.
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