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Cold, Skinny Water Means Changing Tactics

Tom Davis from Southwest Florida Shares Some of his Secrets


This is the time of year that challenges most fishermen with cold fronts from the north and colder water. Pine Island, with its massive mangrove system and skinny water poses a particular problem during cold weather. You can bet all the fish are off the flats at dawn, waiting in the cuts and holes for the sun to warm the water.

I like fishing on an incoming tide, and I like to start early if the tides cooperate. If you check your chart it will show you the areas that will most likely be holding fish this time of year. Drop-offs around sandbars and mangroves will prove to be the best areas this time of day and year. Since fish are forever moving it is best to have several spots picked to try during your outing.

Most of the baitfish are out of our area, so shrimp and artificials are the baits of choice. Combining the two make it even better. A nice lead-headed jig tipped with a piece of shrimp will work very well. There are jigs and bodies of every size and color; use whatever you feel confident with. I find it really doesn't make much difference.

But, what does make a lot of difference is the way it is fished. Fish slow and when you think you are fishing really slow, slow down some more. Trout, redfish, snappers and sheepshead will be waiting to take the bait. As the day wears on and the water warms, I like to go to the sandbars and sight fish for trout and sheepshead. If you can find some sandbars or oyster bars without too much wind, you are in for a thrill. Sheepshead are especially aggressive in shallow water and will take a bait like a bone fish. I like to use a small size #2 Mustad salt water hook and about a half of shrimp. My 8" rod and 10 pound braided line on my Penn 430ss complete the package. A long light rod is a must for this type fishing if you want to get any distance on your casts.

That should cover your day on the water around Pine Island. Now get out there and go fishing!

Note: Tom is not a guide, just an avid angler in southwest Florida who wants to share his knowledge. I am sure he would respond to questions about his part of the country on our new forum.

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