Cool Days, Hot Bites

By: Terry Gibson

ADD TO FAVORITES

As I write this in mid-January, 2014, I’m laughing that Sunshine State weather is making national news regarding the frost warnings posted around the state.

It was about 40 degrees here in Jensen Beach on the Atlantic Coast at daylight. By lunchtime, it’s a bright and sunny 58 degrees. The ocean is calm, and the Indian River Lagoon is almost mirror flat. It is in fact a great day to be on the water anywhere in the state.

And if you happen to visit Florida during our winter and the locals on a day when the locals are acting like we’re going to die of frostbite, don’t be discouraged about going fishing. Fishing for certain species gets better when the thermometer dips a bit, as it will for the next week. Here’s what you’ll catch and where if you brave what passes for cold in sunny Florida.

Pompano

As with most migratory species, pompano prefer what scientists call a certain “temperature envelope.” Pompano prefer water from about 66 degrees F to 74 degrees F. These cool fronts drop water temperatures significantly north of Sebastian, both along the beach and in the Indian River Lagoon. But the shallows warm quickly in the sunshine, and warm eddies off the Gulf Stream Current push in along the beaches and are carried into the lagoon by the incoming tide. This most delicious of the jack family is working it’s way south, and anglers are intercepting them in and around the Sebastian Inlet, the Fort Pierce Inlet and the St. Lucie Inlet. After a couple more days the fish should show in Jupiter and even parts farther south in Palm Beach County. That’s what I’m targeting here in the Stuart area this long weekend.

Sailfish

It looks like a great six or seven days to head offshore. The forecast is for cool temperatures, seas in the two- to four-foot range, and winds out of the north-something most of the week. That’s exactly what you want for a day of sailfishing. The species loves to get up in the sunshine and surf the swells pushing against the Gulf Stream. It’s as exciting visual fishing action as you can find anywhere. You’ll find fish throughout the Florida Keys, and off every port of call from Miami Beach to Fort Pierce.

Crappie

Freshwater anglers will be catching black crappie or “specks” by the bucket-load with the moon just waning and cool weather settled in. For more information on where they’re biting, and on what, click here.

Those of us who have lived here for a while, or most of our lives, are pretty soft when it comes to the “cold.” But my fishing buddies from parts north just laugh at us, and hit the water. And it’s time to hit the water!

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