We’ve truly been fishing one spectacular winter pattern this year. It has been a mild winter on average with short and chilly cold fronts and warm up periods in between. This is really unlike last year’s winter blast of days upon days of cold weather, which lasted nearly 3 months. I am happy to report seeing tons of redfish and a good number of snook in the Everglades in the last few weeks. The numbers of redfish caught in the backcountry have exceeded any of my past years of creek fishing. Granted most of these creek redfish are small, but there have been a couple of bigger ones caught. Oh, and did I mention that there are big seatrout everywhere as well? If you know where to look, sub-slot snook have also been more then plentiful and ready to plow down a plug or DOA CAL. This is nature’s come back and she shows her resiliance with what all Everglades anglers are currently witnessing. We’ve found most of the big redfish and giant snook in skinny water sunning themselves. I guess the fish are like us, trying to keep warm. It’s cold… big fish are just laying there or moving around trying to pick off an easy meal. These big redfish and snook can also be the nit pickiest sons of biatches sometimes… especially big snook. I’ve yet to crack the code for consistantly getting these big snook to bite, but I beleive that I’ve got the number on any of those bigger redfish in skinny water… and it is called DOA CAL (http://www.doalures.com/store/index.cfm/category/65/shad–jerk-baits.cfm).
While waiting for the massive migration of Tarpon to show up in Spring, I’ve found myself wintering it out in the Everglades plugging shorelines, jigging creeks, and poling mud flats. This is the time of year I pick up a spinning and plug rod the most. And since I’m a gear junkie, I can’t help but test some the latest and greatest stuff on the market. Shimano’s new ultra light weight carbon fiber Stradic Ci4 spinning reels have finally made it into my arsenal and thus far, I have been very impressed. It is also the time of year I smoke through almost all my DOA soft plastics. Years ago, my buddy Capt. Rick De Paiva turned me on to using DOA CAL Shad tails on a unpainted DOA jig head. Since that introduction, I’ve been using this setup for 80% of my artificial lure fishing. I’ve always been a terroreyz kinda guy before that, but these last couple of years have changed my attitude. The DOA CAL shad tail and jighead combo has been my hot ticket for a while as I’ve fooled just about every species of fish in the backcountry on this. It is by far the most versatile lure. I’ve been real impressed with the new Fiji Chicken color as I’ve added that to my other standby colors that redfish love to hate but hate to deny.
I guess Spring is just around the corner. While we wait, I’ll be running that Maverick 18 HPX around in Chokoloskee and Flamingo poling down big snook and redfish. I’ll spend my off days trying to design the next tarpon, bonefish, or permit fly and filling my fly box full of custom tied tarpon and bonefish flies from my new tier… HT Bugs. This winter stuff has been fun but IT NEEDS TO WARM UP ALREADY!!! So until then… stay tuned!!!