We haven't had much true winter weather through the end of December, so the inshore fishing isn't as predictable as it usually is this time of year. The changing weather patterns are keeping fisherman on their heels as they have to be able to adapt to changing conditions each week. The fish are biting well for the most part, you just have to know where to find them.
The warmer weather this past week had the fish pushed back to the flats in 3-4' of water. Because we haven't had any sustained cold periods, there are still plenty of baitfish on the flats for the trout and reds to eat. Be sure to catch some pinfish and have them on hand when fishing the shallow flats on these warmer days.
When we do get an occasional cool spell, this puts the fish in a state of shock for a day or two until they can adjust to the rapidly-changing water temperatures. Once they adjust, they'll usually start biting again. Many days of consecutive cold weather will push them into the creeks, while a warming trend will push them back to the flats. As long as you understand this movement in accordance with the weather patterns, you should be able to find fish pretty easily.
Our baits of choice will vary by the day. With the weather patterns changing so frequently, it's good to have a variety of baits on hand. We've been using pinfish, live shrimp, Zoom jerk baits on a jig head, and Cotton Cordell diving plugs with success. Some days one works better than the other, so you just have to keep trying all the baits into your arsenal until one works.
When using the diving plugs, try a variety of retrieve techniques. Some days the fish will bite the plugs when we're popping them across the water. Other days they seem to prefer a diving retrieve. That's what makes these plugs so versatile. You can fish them in a variety of ways. When using the jerk baits on a jig head, adjust the length of your popping cork leader so that the bait is bumping along the bottom.
We have found a few flounder along the spotty bottom. If you can find some sandy spots among the grass, bump a soft plastic along the bottom for best results. We have heard reports of sheepshead being caught in several of the creek holes. They're not consistently in every hole. But when you find one, there's usually more.
This fishing report is brought to you by Captain Jason Witherspoon of Spoon Fed Charters in Keaton Beach, Florida.