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David Miller holding the rod that caught the fish, and his son Christopher holding his father’s fish!
David Miller holding the rod that caught the fish, and his son Christopher holding his father’s fish!

Want a Trophy Redfish? NOW is the Time!

By the time the month of January rolls around the migrating inshore fish are gone, and everything left has gone into hibernation. Spotted sea trout are wintering in deep holes in the creeks, rivers or sounds, so the best way to catch them is to use small freshwater jigs with curly tails or super grubs on a 4-6 pound test main line. I prefer old-school monofilament for a main line because of the extra stretch and cushion it adds, but the braided main line also will work. However, you need to make sure the drag set matches the main line used. Spotted sea trout have soft mouths, and a hook can easily be pulled free.

To learn more about how to catch inshore and offshore fish, give me a call at 912-897-4921. I’m holding classes for inshore fishing February 8, 9, 15, and 16, 2014 and March 1 and 2, 2014 for offshore fishing. Some classes for both inshore and offshore fishing will be held out on the water.

Cast in the deepest part or the hole, let your lure hit the bottom, wait, reel a few times, wait, and repeat. Then cast the lure to the sides of the hole and repeat again. The secret to catching trout in the cold is to work your lure as slowly as possible while still keeping it on the bottom. To get a trout’s attention during hibernation you almost have to hit them right on the on the head with the lure!

Jiffy Jigs are freshwater jigs, but also work in the salt water, and they come in assorted sizes and colors. If these aren’t available select 1/16 to 1/24 ounce jigs dipped in red, white, or black plastic, or use naked unpainted lead. For some reason fish can’t seem to pass up a piece of lead with a screw tail (any light color as long a white is involved works) or real shrimp. Add a hook to this rigging equation and hook ups are likely to happen!

Cutting up some mullet steaks
Cutting up some mullet steaks

On the other hand, redfish in the cold water, act and eat funny. Fish around low tide, especially if the sun is straight up and shining. Two hours before the low through two hours after the turn of the tide are the best hours to fish. During the higher tide hours, you can still find redfish in the grass. The best bait are lip-hooked live finger mullet or live shrimp hooked under the horn. If you’re going to use dead bait, use smelly mullet cut like a loaf of bread, also known as mullet steak.

Catch and release trophy bull reds offshore
For those fishermen who want a shot at a trophy redfish, or “Bull Redfish,” now is the time. Redfish caught offshore are catch and release only, but just think about the picture you can take! Just handle them with care and release them as quickly as possible. The best natural bait, believe it or not, are cut squid or fish. The best artificial bait are any sort of jigs with white hair or small plastic tubes attached. Once you’ve cast into the school, the redfish should hit your lure on the fall. If there are of you fishing, throw the first artificial lure and then wait about 5 seconds to throw the second.

During the month of January it’s not unusual to see large trophy red fish in the inshore and offshore waters. This picture was taken of a 42 inch caught fought tagged, and release red fish.
During the month of January it’s not unusual to see large trophy red fish in the inshore and offshore waters. This picture was taken of a 42 inch caught fought tagged, and release red fish.

If you want to keep what you catch offshore, that can be done as well. Near-shore artificial reefs hold some pretty good table fare this time of year. Sheepshead, flounder, black drum, and summer trout (also known as a weak fish) are all running well. The best bait for Sheepshead and black drum are live or frozen fiddler crabs, raw oysters, barnacles in the shell, green mussels out of the shell, or crickets. Yes, I said crickets! While these are normally freshwater bait, they work enough of the time and offer just enough crunch appeal to make it worth a try. As for fishing for flounder, I suggest fishing on the outskirts of the structure with live bait, such as jumbo mud minnows, sand perch, or smaller fish caught on a sabiki rig, or stripped bait such as the stomach wall of any fresh caught sheepshead or black drum, or the fillet side of any bottom fish. The secret to catching flounder off an artificial reef is to fish the outskirts of the structure. The only time flounder are inside the structure is when they are situated with heads in and tails out, not feeding.

To learn more about how to catch inshore and offshore fish, give me a call at 912-897-4921. I’m holding classes for inshore fishing February 8, 9, 15, and 16, 2014 and March 1 and 2, 2014 for offshore fishing. Some classes for both inshore and offshore fishing will be held out on the water.

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