By Capt. Nathan Chennaux
One of my favorite winter past times is sneaking around shallow shoals and over sandbars working my way back into bayous and holes that have over the years been loaded with fish this time of the year. Given the difficulty of just getting back into alot of these places its doubtful that they get much pressure from casual anglers leaving most of these fish pretty willing to cooperate. Since these fish are typically going to be schooled up you definitely want to ease in quietly and take your time as to not push the school away or alert them to your presence. A few extra minutes on approach could be the difference to getting into a great bite or just picking off a couple of fish before they leave. The variety of fish you catch is going to be determined somewhat by what part of the bay you are fishing in. In just about every bayou you can find trout and redfish but in certain areas closer to inlets you can find a wide variety of fish including trout, redfish, black drum, sheephead, pompano, flounder, bluefish, and ladyfish. I like to use either soft plastic baits or slow suspending twitch baits when fishing these types of areas.
Out on the flats there are still plenty of fish hanging around. Redfish, black drum, sheepshead, and flounder are the most common catches in the shallows at the moment but we are still coming across the occassional pompano and trout as well. With the flats being as shallow and clear as they are its important to downsize all aspects of your gear in order to give yourself the best chance at success. I would recomend no heavier than 8-10 lb leader and a 1/16-1/8 oz jig. When on the flats, just like in the bayous, you want to look for depth changes, transitions between grass and sand, and the outer edges of the flats where there will still be a decent amout of water even on low negative tides. Try to stay as far away from where you think the fish will be as you can accurately make casts to them. Once you get into some bites put your Talon anchor down and go to work on them.
Lastly, you can just about always put together some good bites in the pass. Right now its mostly going to be redfish but on any given day this time of the year you may also catch some nice black sea bass, mangrove snapper, flounder, black drum, bluefish. Soon, if not already, you will also begin to see sheephead starting to show up as well. Live shrimp is probably the best bait to catch the widest variety of fish but artificial lures are very produticve for most of the species you can find in the pass. A good bottom machine makes a world of difference for finding fish sticking tight to structrure and the Humminbird Mega Imaging is about as good as it gets when it comes to Downscan/Sidescan technology.
Good luck and if you have any additional questions about whats biting, how to catch them, or you would like to book a trip I encourage you to give me a call or shoot me an email.
Capt. Nathan Chennaux