Happy Monday SpaceFish,
After that bitter arctic blast around Christmas, and tough fishing conditions in between then and New Years Day, it was really nice to have a few warm days to start 2023 off with some fun and exciting days on the water. I was able to get out on January 4th and again on the 8th. I fished inshore on the Indian River Lagoon and Crane Creek on the 4th and went down to the Stick Marsh on Sunday.
I launched out of Scurrah’s Landing right there just off of Downtown Melbourne, I fished along the shorelines of the IRL all the way to the 192 causeway. The wind was blowing in the 10 mph range from the south that day so I was making all of my casts and presentations up-current to allow for natural retrieval. I fished with two paddle tails; the Slam Shady 2.0 and the John Skinner’s Mossy Mullet Paddle Tail – both are produced by Salt Strong in their 3.5 inch profile. I really like the color profile of the Mossy Mullet, it’s pearl white on the bottom with an olive green back with glitter sprinkled in. I caught the best Snook and Trout of the day on this color, and it produced the most fish caught. I did fish with a Gulp! Shrimp on a ned rig briefly – didn’t catch anything, but because I was catching fish on the swimbait I pretty much stayed with that. 6 of the Snook, and all 4 Trout were caught in the lagoon, and I caught 4 more smaller Snook in my paddle down Crane Creek.
It was really nice to enjoy warmer weather, the fish seemed to really respond as well. I launched around 7:30 and it was slow going until the sun rose out of the east and started baking the shoreline I was fishing. The best fishing was between 9-11 AM. If I am being honest, I am not a morning person. I’d much prefer to sleep in a little while later, and enjoy a cup of coffee before leaving the house if I am able, that is one of the nice things about this time of the year compared to the summer, being able to catch fish while the sun is up. But that being said, when targeting Snook they will still be lurking in the mangroves, under docks and will use shade to their advantage as ambush predators. I’d still recommend beating the bushes and skipping under docks and overhangs to play the percentage game to increase bites. Another note about winter fishing, cold fronts help clear up the water, so if you’re not getting bit sometimes going down in the leader can help increase strikes. I was fishing with a 17 and 20 pound Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon leader. 20 pound test on my spinning rods, and 17 on my bait casters.
One last story from that day. On the largest Snook I caught, which in the grand scheme of things wasn’t all that big of a Snook, I ended up in a comedy of errors situation. I was fishing along a shoreline that runs more west to east, and had just made a skip cast under the dock, between the closest and 2nd closest dock pilings to the shore. If you were to head west along the shoreline from the Chart House, there’s that big dock that juts out. Anyway, I made the cast with a few turns of the reel handle. I felt the thump and set the hook, but from my right side I’m being rocked pretty good with windblown water. The wind that day was blowing between 10-12 mph, but of course I was dealing with gusts closer to 20 at this moment, the fish is trying to run under and through the dock, head in a WNW direction, I’m getting knocked into the mangroves by white capping lagoon waves, luckily I was using one of my bait casters and was able to horse the Snook in pretty quickly but during the melee one of my rods got snagged in a mangrove. I felt the tension of getting stuck and then popping free, and I was focused on getting the Snook in the net before my light leader snapped.
When I surveyed the damage after I was done, I realized I lost a spinning rod/reel combo. At that point I tried to get a scan on the shoreline by standing up in the kayak and paddling but my balance was wobbly in the choppy water and where it was rolling into the mangroves and rocks I couldn’t find it. I also lost a tumbler that teeter-tottered out of my cup holder in the topsy turvy action as well. BUT I will say this, and this is a word of advice I’d like to give those reading this that may want to get into kayak or paddle board fishing. Expect things to get crazy sometimes, and don’t take top of the line gear, equipment and other accessories out on the kayak with you unless you’re not worried about replacing it. But from my perspective, I have a 2 year old, a 3 year old, and my wife and I are both teachers. That being said, I have caught a lot of fish, and caught some pretty nice fish and I have never spent more that 60 dollars on an individual rod or reel. The set up I lost was my micro set up, a Berkley Amp Saltwater rod and a Daiwa 100 series spinning reel. It was a set up that cost roughly $65 bucks, but it was sentimental value due to having caught so many Tarpon, and Snook inshore on small 2 inch swimbaits, and was my finesse set up when Bass fishing.
I’d like to say this was the first time I’d had a combo go into the water, but it’s not – I can’t tell you how many times my reels have been dunked, or rod tips snagged and banged or scraped etc. It’s going to happen, so I’d suggest doing some research on what you buy, because it’s going to go through some wear and tear. The good news is, there are a lot of good options out there without having to break the bank.
On to Bass fishing! I went down to the Stick Marsh yesterday, but this time I explored different parts of the lake, most notably the eastern shoreline. I caught 16 total Bass, not my worst outing, but not my best either. It was chilly in the morning, and the fishing picked up once it warmed up. I spent the first hour throwing top water, even though I knew it wasn’t a top water type of morning. I didn’t catch anything. I threw a Whopper Plopper, a Scum Frog and a Googan Baits popping frog – nada. Then I spent the next hour fishing a Watermelon Red Zoom Fluke on a ⅛ oz Twistlock, Gambler EZ Swimmer in Copperfield on a ¼ oz Twistlock with a gold Colorado blade underspin. I got a bite, but didn’t land the fish on the swimbait. Fluke – nada. My production really picked up when I started throwing worms. The Bitters Vibe (speed worm) in Okee Candy on a Texas Rig, and the Bitters Magic Wand (trick worm) in Candy Bug on a ¼ oz Shaky Head. I also caught a few on the Bitters Vibe in Sprayed Grass when it got cloudy for a spell. That’s a great overcast color with the dark body and bright purple and green flecks. I used a 4/0 Gamakatsu hook, and pegged a tungsten weight, I ended up fishing 3 different weights – ⅛ oz when targeting the shallows around the shoreline, and ¼ oz & ⅜ oz when targeting islands of emergent grass off the shoreline. This is where most of the fish were for me.
I caught a few dinks roaming the shallows, but the quality fish where caught throwing worms into the grass and slow rolling it through the grass. A lot of hits came just as I cleared the grass. I also caught a handful of fish throwing the Bitters Magic Wand and bouncing it along the grass lines with a parallel retrieve. This profile of worm is an all time classic, it’s one of my brothers favorites, he caught his PB on it, and he gives me a hard time for not being more patient as an angler, but fishing this bait slow and steady with little hops and pausing it to let that tail pulsate will definitely get bites and land fish.
I hope everyone had a great week to start the new year. It looks like more snotty weather is on the horizon, but I really enjoyed the past week of warm weather and bright sunshine, I hope you had a chance to get out and enjoy it too.
Until next time!