If you’re reading this report and have been out fishing the last month or two you know it’s been one odd winter. One day it’ll be seventy-eight degrees and sunny and the next it’ll be thirty five and rainy. It’s been one of those winters where you fish one day and you really get on them and you go the next and the fish are gone. Temps in the Gulf have been hovering around the low sixties mark for most of the winter which is very out of the ordinary. Either way, it’s been a tough winter for most when it comes to really getting on a consistent bite. I believe that we’ll have a few more good cold fronts come through this month but nothing like we’re used to this time of year, so plan on getting your boat and tackle ready earlier, the fishing will get better very soon.
Even with the amount of rain we’ve had that’s filled our bays with freshwater, the inshore bite has continued to be great. This time of year we like fishing the bayous and creek mouths. The trout and redfish tend to like the darker/muddier type bottom where it stays warm. Work docks throughout the bayous throwing soft plastics. Once you get a bite or catch a fish or two, there’s usually more there, so hang tight. If you can find live shrimp, they’ll work great too. Right around where our bridges/passes are, we’re starting to see the sheepshead bite pick up quite a bit. Tide doesn’t matter too much, but if you can be there when it’s more slack than anything, it makes it much easier to hold up and fish close to the pilings. Use shrimp or crabs with a smaller #1 straight hook on a drop rig. Remember one thing when it comes to sheepshead fishing, if you think you feel a bite, it’s probably too late. Set the hook and try them out and you’ll be more successful with hook up ratio.
January might be a slow month for “keeping” fish, but it’s still a great month for fishing. Snapper and gag grouper are closed so your best bet to put some fish in the box is red grouper, black snapper, and mingo snapper. This bite has been great as of late and should continue to be good all month long. With this warm weather we’ve had, it has kept a ton of bait in our area and closer inshore, which has kept the fishing good. There have been a lot of jacks stacked up on big steel structure. Any barge, ship, things of that nature are a great place to start. Not much more fun than pulling on a big jack. The big bull mingos have been out on the edge pretty thick. As I said before there’s been a lot of bait inshore so that hasn’t been as big of an issue as the last couple years have been. All the inshore wrecks are pretty stacked up with ruby lips, squirrel fish, rock fish, etc.
I also use January as my “research” month. If you can catch a pretty day with calm seas, grab a couple friends, and go riding around in the Gulf. You’ll be amazed at what kind of bottom and wreckage you can find within 15 miles from the pass. You can really build up your spots in your book and be ready for the spring. Make sure if you do this bring a couple rods with you, don’t get caught off guard.