TemperatureWater temperatures are beginning to rise, which sparks the stop to winter patterns, but the baitfish that follow the warmer water have not yet arrived. We are sort of between seasons, and fish are somewhat difficult to find.
Attention to DetailThis is the time of year when particular attention to detail is required. Fish are very picky. Lack of heavy rainfall and the ensuing runoff makes coastal waters, which are otherwise murky, extremely clear. Smaller line, smaller baits, and lighter tackle are the order of the day.
ArtificialsArtificial baits need to match baitfish colors as closely as possible. In murky water we use colors that can be seen easily, like chartreuse, red or orange. Clear water allows the fish a closer bait inspection and consequently an easier decision on whether to bite or not.
Live BaitLive bait would be my preference, but this time of year it is sometimes hard to find at local tackle shops.
Catch What BitesOne thing I do at this time of year is to fish for the local fish that are still biting. In my case, specifically, that means sheepshead (the east coast variety). These hard fighters are currently all over the rocks and jetties at area inlets up and down the east coast. The warmer weather makes fiddler crabs, my bait of choice, easier to find.
SheepsheadThese are not your run of the mill sheepshead. These are pre-spawn fish and some of them are well over ten pounds. Catching several in that weight category is not uncommon. I take light line, a small splitshot, a number 1 or 2 short shank hook, and head for the jetties.
Sheepshead fishing is easy. Sheepshead catching, on the other hand, is an art. I have a number friends that won't fish for them because they have yet to learn how to detect their subtle bait stealing bite. Trying to teach that art on paper is difficult at best. Time and practice work best.
Fish at HomeTake your time during this seasonal lull and find the fish that bite. As soon as the first runs of mullet begin to appear, fishing will pick up dramatically. Until then, stay with light tackle, small baits, and have patience. Late March will bring an obvious change!
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