Inshore Winter Scouting….. Prep For The Coming Fishing Season
Many people may disagree that saltwater fishing is a year-round sport. While many anglers winterize their boats and pitch their fishing gear in the garage and wait on the 70-degree weather to return others are busy preparing for those warmer fishing days ahead. It’s far more than getting their gear ready. The cooler months are also a good time to scout potential great fishing spots. The combination of clear water and less fishing and boat traffic makes for a perfect time to slowly cruise around and mark areas that are or may be hot spots when the weather warms.
Scouting in the winter months is both relaxing and easy. I’ve been known to take my wife on a scouting mission absent of rods and reels. We slowly meander up and down the many creeks and estuaries looking for places that will hold both fish and their food source. This means places like where creeks intersect or where they widen or narrow. I also look for areas that may have been washed out into deeper holes where fish may hold up for protection from their prey. Locate spots like new structures that can now be a fish or bait habitat. It’s important to keep in mind that most inshore species are constantly moving around seeking a better source of feeding. This can also mean that a great fishing spot last summer, may not be a great one this year. The smart angler is constantly looking and it’s easier due to the clear water thanks to the absence of plankton, causing the water to have more visibility than in the summer and fall months.
You’ll need to look for not only junction points but also changes in the creek’s structures due to recent storms and other activity. Some days you may be able to even spot the fish themselves, slowing moving looking for the limited baits. Make sure to constantly watch your depth finder for sudden holes or drop-offs that are a good indication that fish are near or will be near when the water warms.
Now here is the make it or break it when it comes to scouting. Be sure to denote each of your finds. Thinking you’ll be able to remember the location as it’s makeup now in a few months is a big mistake. Mark it on your GPS and then make notes as to the location’s character, such as depth. You can even put the details in your cell phone for safekeeping. When the weather and the water warms, you’re ready to go and are a step ahead of most of the other inshore fishermen.