Winter fishing tactics on Siesta Key
Winter Siesta Key fishing charters
It looks like we are going to have a “real” winter here on Siesta Key in 2014. Even though it is Florida, the water can get cold, relative to local species tolerances. Therefore, angling techniques need to change. Drifting the grass flats and casting jigs might produce fish on nice days, but when it is cold and windy and the water is dirty, action will be slow.
I will use live or frozen shrimp on a lot of my Siesta Key fishing charters in January and February. The water can get cold and fish’s metabolism will slow down. The successful angler will also slow down, fishing deeper, and quite often natural bait will out-fish artificial baits at this time. Any structure in relatively deep water may hold fish. This can be as simple as a four foot deep hole near and oyster bar or a dock or bridge in fifteen feet of water. The key is to get the bait down on the bottom using as little weight as possible. Tidal flow will help spread the scent, but too much current can make fishing difficult.
I will target different species under these conditions. Sheepshead, black drum, and silver trout all bite well in cold, dirty water. And, they taste great! Siesta Key has miles of residential canals that hold fish. Also, Big Sarasota Pass borders the north side of Siesta Key. The water is quite deep in spots with abundant structure. Sheepshead in particular will school up in large numbers in the winter.
While drum and sheepshead are caught primarily on natural bait, silver trout will readily take a lure, and nothing beats a jig for these tasty saltwater pan fish. Though not large, they fight surprisingly hard for their size and taste great. Last year was fantasic and I am hoping that 2014 is just as good. They are found over deep grass and in the deeper dredge holes near Siesta Key. Silver trout school tightly, so once located the action can be fast and furious.
Snook will move up into creeks and rivers this time of year, also. This is another species that I target using lures instead of bait. Plugs work well and the Rapala X-Rap is my favorite. I chase snook on charters where the clients have a bit more experience as accurate casting can be required.