Winter Scouting

Wintertime low tides also offer excellent opportunities for scouting.

January 13, 2020
Holding up two redfish
Winter ventures yield intel for the future as well as nice catches. Dave Lear

Although the winter months force most inshore anglers north of the Mason-Dixon line to suspend their hobby, other parts of the country remain quite good. Aside from the periodic cold fronts, light tackle enthusiasts from the Carolinas south and across the Gulf can enjoy consistent action with redfish, seatrout, flounder, black drum, snook and other popular game fish. Wintertime negative low tides also offer excellent opportunities for scouting. The lower water levels reveal features and structure that can be added to chart plotter waypoints and targeted throughout the year. Here are some key aspects to focus on:

Oyster bar holding bait
Havens for small forage like crabs and tiny fry, oyster bars are ideal fish-attractors. The darker pigment holds heat when exposed to the sun and bars are often several degrees warmer than surrounding water when flooded. Dave Lear
Rocks holding birds and bait
Limestone rocks and coral in South Florida and the Keys are prime places to prospect. Like oyster bars, darker rocks absorb heat and radiate warmth into the water when submerged. Stone and coral are ideal ambush spots, plus it’s easier to navigate shallow waters when skeg-eating obstructions are marked. Dave Lear
Holes holding baitfish
Depressions or holes in otherwise flat subsurfaces are perfect places for game fish to hide in wait. Even six inches or so can provide sanctuary and it’s often possible to spot laid-up fish on the bottom on sandy holes. Dave Lear
Rock grass attracts fish
Rock grass, which is in the sargassum family, grows on limestone in the coastal waters from West Central Florida through the Big Bend region. The fronds typically die back in extreme cold water, but during milder winters the wavy tendrils help pinpoint navigation hazards and fish-attracting structure. Dave Lear
Dark patches of sea grass
Darker patches of sea grasses adjacent to sandy areas are worth investigating. Water temperatures tend to be warmer over the denser patches and redfish, trout and snook use it to hide from osprey and other predators. Dave Lear


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