LAKE ROUSSEAU — Bill Burgess of Lake Rousseau RV and Fishing said the cold weather has basically shut things down, but the bass were hitting on big worms and trying to spawn. All indications are they’re moving to the shallow to spawn. Once the weather warms up, there should be some good fishing again.
WITHLACOOCHEE — Captain Zack Lewis of Reputation Charters (352-302-7928), via Hook, Line and Sinker Bait and Tackle, said, “Well once the wind finally decides to lay down, get your fishing gear out ’cuz the fish will be waiting. The sheepshead bite is still going strong as well as the redfish and trout bite. Coming into February you will see some big gator trout being caught, along with some really nice reds being caught up in the creeks and on the oyster bars.
“With it being so windy if you decide to go fishing try fishing around the islands or in the rivers where you can get out of the wind. This time of the year that wind can make you or break you. And just to be able to get out of the wind for a little bit is always nice.
“I like to fish in the rivers this time of the year as the redfish and trout move into them. I still use live shrimp and mud minnows in the rivers. I like to free-line the mud minnows or put a small spilt shot a couple of feet above them. And the shrimp I like to put under a popping cork on a jig head. Or just on a jig head. Hope this helps and you can get out and fish soon.”
KING’S BAY — Captain Louie Argiro of Florida Fishing Adventures (352-601-1963, www.floridafishingadventures.com), based out of Pete’s Pier in Crystal River, said, “Last week we had amazing weather and in Florida fashion, this week ... not so much. Although we don’t like to see the cold it keeps our fish in a wintertime cycle which keeps them on track for a great spring. The fish have once again moved back to the east. Some would call this running for the hills as the further east you go in Crystal River the shallower and darker the water gets, keeping it warmer longer. After this cold front the redfish and trout will need a couple days to get back into a regular feeding pattern which will make for increased catch rates in our area.
“As for the redfish, on these extreme cold fronts I cannot harp on enough how much a mud minnow will help. While these fish are so cold they are only wanting to eat a few meals a day and a slow-wiggling mud minnow always seems to be the ticket. The biggest mistake with a mud minnow is presentation. Don’t overdo it, a free-lined bait is the best way to use these minnows. The less tackle the better, and that goes for your shrimp as well. Keep it simple and catch more.
“As for the speckled trout, he’s a different being all together. But one thing remains true for the trout in these winter months. The colder it gets the slower your retrieve is. Whether you’re using artificials or live bait doesn’t matter. Some cold days it’s better to almost drag your bait across the bottom; yes, you’re going to get hung up more doing this, but would you rather catch fish or not? Once you find one good-sized, legal trout, work that area as there are most likely going to be a few more sitting right next to that one.
“This week we did not have a lot of guys make it offshore because of the cold front and high winds but I’m sure they are itching to get out there to chase down the sheepshead and hogfish. Although we have been catching them on the shallow rocks the real sheepshead fishing starts when they push offshore to spawn. There’s nothing like looking down at your bottom machine and seeing a big blob of sheepshead sitting right under your boat. Drop that shrimp down and get to pulling. This is some of my clients’ favorite fisheries of the year for the constant action and great eating that comes from these sheepshead. Tight lines.”
Captain William Toney (352-422-4141) said, “Not a lot to report about this week, except it’s cold and windy! This coming weekend looks to be more user friendly so let’s start: where to catch some fish.
“With cold water some of the best starting points are going to be in the deeper creeks and backcountry holes. The big rivers will have fish but on the weekends it’s difficult to fish them because of the boat traffic. For redfish, black drum, sheepshead and mangrove snapper the best bait is live shrimp. Use a 1/8th-ounce jig head to hook the shrimp by pinching off their tail and threading the hook through the end and hook turning out the leg section.
“For trout artificial baits work best like the D.O.A. jerk baits on the shallows near deep water or use a MirrOlure MirrOdine in the deeper sections of the creeks and backcountry holes. If the wind is down to allow safe offshore fishing look for sheepshead in the 8-12-foot range. Further out starting at 18 foot and beyond there has been some good reports of hogfish being caught. High incoming tide will be mid-morning this weekend.”