Along with the cool weather, the winter brings negative tides to Southwest Florida allowing anglers a shot at sight casting early morning tailing redfish which is a sight to be seen. Nothing is better than quietly entering a flat and seeing those bronze tails waiving at you off in the distance.
As with other areas the cooler temperature and change in diets and behavior means a change in tactics. The majority of the year I will throw a topwater such as a Zara Spook or a Top Dog. In the winter time however when the redfish have their nose firmly buried in the ground I switch to a subsurface lure such as a Riptide Flats Chub or Riptide Shrimp rigged on a 1/16th oz weighted screw lock hook. Most of my success this season and last season was with the Riptide shrimp in the gold/glow pattern as this most closely resembles the diet of the winter redfish in the Matlacha/Pine Island area. Another thing that angler’s should remember is that since the water is cooling down the baits and predatory fish are slowing down a bit so your retrieve should slow down as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed opportunities to catch fish because my retrieve was way too fast.
While these artificial baits work 90% of the time it never hurts to carry some cut bait or live shrimp with you to put some scent into the water and get the fish going crazy. I’ve yet to see a big redfish turn down a big chunk of cut ladyfish or a nice handpicked shrimp.
So get out there and remember to take your time to look for signs of fish whether it be a big tail waving at you or that tell tale redfish “V” wake, be patient and most importantly slow things down this winter.
About the Author: James is an accomplished tournament angler and fishing guide from Southwest Florida. He's been featured in numerous magazines including Florida Sportsman. Currently he holds ProStaff positions with: Hobie Kayaks, Torqeedo Motors, Flying Fisherman Sunglasses, Aquabound Paddles, Riptide Lures, Penn Reels, Abu Garcia, Spiderwire, Columbia Sportswear, GoPro Cameras and Yeti Coolers.