Nearshore Winter Fishing Is Dead….Not Really, But Have a Plan
Late winter nearshore and offshore fishing are often overlooked as a season. Most Southern anglers are tired of cold wet weather and are just hibernating until April when the action and the temperature heat up. However still a lot of good fishing is to be had nearshore in the last days of winter, but there are a few things that you need to understand.
First, not all fish species are out there in the winter months. Some novice anglers think all the species they catch in the warmer months are there in the winter months. Not true. There’s only a select number of species in the nearshore range. This is due to migration habits based on food sources and water temps. So heading out of the inlet to jig or troll without knowing where to go can become a big waste of time. It’s important to have a few target species, rig properly for them, and know your options for where they may be located. Head to the structures that attract and hold fish. Too many times fishermen will fish the open ocean hoping to run across a school of fish. That’s like finding a small needle in a haystack the size of a college campus. I avoid artificial reefs (ARs). These are marked with buoys and on nearly every chart on the internet fishing location site. I avoid these areas due to fishing traffic building up around them. I also find it to be a place where many times toothy critters dominate and that means broken lines and other issues. Instead, I plan ahead by looking at my underwater map that has other underwater structures which will hold fish. I personally prefer the Maps Unique map that features thousands of locations. It’s important to remember that structure is where the fish congregate. The majority of the ocean takes the form of an underwater desert. Structures such as rocks, drop-offs, coral, and other objects are really where fish come to feed and seek protection.
Right now, species like False Albacore and Black Sea Bass are great targets off the Carolina coast. False Albacore is feeding a few miles off the coast making for a short trip for winter fishing. While the fish are not good for eating, they are great for having a good fight. I use a medium to light spinning rig with Blue Water Candy’s Thingamajig lure. For Black Sea Bass I like to use the Blue Water Candy’s 2-ounce Roscoe Jig. This is a great multi-use lure that works well for Black Sea Bass.
Be proficient with your fish-finder. It’s important to have the ability to locate fish over and around the structure. It also allows you to make sure that you remain over the active structure. Not knowing what’s below will only result in a big waste of time. And remember, that while many fish have been there yesterday, they may not be there tomorrow. With that in mind, pre-planning backup locations are a must.
Don’t give in to the winter months. There is still great fishing out there. Give it a try.