how to stay warm on a cold day…keep catching fish   2 comments

Well, it was 37  degrees at the Sea Hag Marina when Tommy Thompson and I met my old friend Mike Peyton for a fishing trip that we all considered marginal at best.  We wanted to fish the flats and needed some sunny skies in the afternoon. The tides were right…but the skies didn’t cooperate. It was overcast all day, with a negative tide around 11.  We figured there would be some people fishing in the river, but when Danielle Norwood told us she had sold 1000 live shrimp that morning, we figured we’d see a crowd on our way out. Funny thing about that. We decided that since there wasn’t much water yet, we’d just try some river fishing while we waited for the sun and the tide to go our way. The sun never happened, and that turned out fine. 

I really have never much liked fishing in the river. It’s crowded at times, with people clogging up the channel, and in general the fish are generally small keepers in the 17-18 inch range, mixed with short fish.  Because I didn’t want to mess with an anchor, we idled up to some 3-foot water near the channel and stuck the Powerpole. There were a lot of boats. Not as many as I’ve seen in the past, but lots.

Most people use live shrimp or Mirrolures when fishing the river. Since Tommy and I have an aversion to shrimp, and we love fishing with suspending soft lures (specifically Corky lures), we wanted to give those a try. There were boats pretty much all around us, and some were catching the occasional fish. We started catching fish on the first casts, and essentially never stopped. We had doubles and triples much of the 3 hours we were on the water. All the fish were keepers, and there were some in the 17 inch range, but there were also many larger fish, up to 21 inches.  As you can see, initially we were pretty bundled up, with balaclavas and gloves.

As sometime happens, we happened to be anchored next to a guy who had his young daughter with him in their skiff. He watched us for a while in amazement, as he was in the same place and just couldn’t catch a fish. We called him over and Tommy gave him one of our Corky lures and even tied it on for him, then gave him a little instruction on how to fish it. He still couldn’t quite get the hang of it, but about an hour later he yelled over that he had caught one trout. We tried three different locations just to see where the fish were. They were everywhere. We caught fish in each location. Mike shows off a couple of average-sized fish. They were all healthy and heavy, and there were three at 20 inches, but none larger.

The wind died down for a while, and it was downright pleasant.  We were catching fish and the cold was really easy to deal with. It never got over 42 degrees, in spite of the forecast of 50.

 Our best guess is that we caught around 60 trout in the three hours we fished. Although we almost never keep fish, Mike wanted some and so did Tommy, so we kept three limits of fish…we had caught 15 keepers in the first hour, but we didn’t keep anything under about 18 inches, and we kept three over 20.  The last hour or so we released everything we caught.


I have to say that this was one of the best fishing days we’ve had in a long time. The river wasn’t as crowded as I have seen it, and there was a fair amount of repartee between the boats.  I did see an old friend, Jeff Evans, fishing from his canoe. It was actually a lot of fun, people were considerate in general, and it was non-stop action. Actually made me re-think my aversion to river fishing. There are larger fish on the flats once you figure out how to get to them, but the number and size of these fish made it a fantastic fishing day with two good friends. I might even try it again…when I can’t get out to the flats.


Posted January 3, 2010 by grassflats in Inshore Fishing, Steinhatchee, trout

2 responses to “how to stay warm on a cold day…keep catching fish

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  1. Rick is the basic plan to anchor on the edge of the channel and cast your lure into the deeper water and then retrieve slowwwwwly just off the bottom?



    • Suspending lures are great for fishing the river, but how to work them depends a lot on the tidal current and the particular lure. When we first started it was just about slack with a slight incoming. We were actually casting initially into only 4 to 5 foot water, not out into the channel. Since suspending lures “suspend” differently (a Catch 2000 suspends higher in the water column than many Corky lures), I cast either upcurrent and work the bait very slowly to give it time to sink to a middle depth when there is a strong current, or cast downcurrent and work back slowly when there is much less current. At times the fish will be holding right near the bottom. That may happen in the next few days because the temperature is staying in the 20’s overnight, so just change your casting direction so the lures have time to get further down in the water column. However, on this day, I had fish that came up to the surface in five feet of water to take the lures just a few inches under the surface. The bites are generally very soft so try and keep the slack out of your line as much as possible and be alert for just very soft taps, then give a slight hookset. We caught fish between markers 26 and 23, but not just near the channel, but in the shallow areas on both sides of the river as well. Good luck and give me a report if you go.

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