Old man winter is here on Florida’s Adventure Coast and the fishing is great. Fish we target this time of year are speckled sea trout, red fish and sheepshead.
Sea trout are holding in very shallow water – only one to two feet deep – on hard limestone bottom. Fish these guys on an incoming, and first part of, the outgoing tide. We are doing great with soft plastic zoom baits in white, Arkansas shad, albino, and watermelon red. Rig these baits weedless with a 4/0-5/0 skip gap worm hook tied with a loop knot for more lifelike action. Cast as far as possible to cover ground and work the bait slowly with a soft rod tip twitch; the trout are hitting the bait on the fall. Trout sizes are in the range of 17 to 24 inches in length.
Redfish are holding around the same areas as the trout and in the back creeks and bays. Target them on an incoming tide using live select shrimp tail-hooked with a 1/0-2/0 circle hook. A good tip for using shrimp is to pinch off the tail end and tail-hook them. You will be able to cast a lot farther and, with the tail being pinched off, this allows the scent to be dispersed so the reds smell the shrimp faster.
Sheepshead are holding on the offshore rockpiles. Target them in the 10 to 20-foot depth range. The way we catch these “convicts” is one of two different ways; depending on the current flow, use a 1/8 to 1/4- ounce gotcha jig head or, a knocker rig with a 1/4-1-ounce egg sinker and a 1 odd bait saver hook. I like to pinch the tail off and then thread the hook into the center of the shrimp, coming out close to the head or legs. The key is to hide the hook. Sheepshead nibble, so when you feel weight on the rod tip, set the hook.