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High Tides 2001
or later it was bound to happen. Soft Indian summer winds yielded to
frigid Canadian Artic air the past 10 days. While a gradual cooling is
desired in the fall months, often in Florida, the seasons change in a
matter of just a few hours. Water temperatures that were a warm 74
dropped some 18 degrees in just days. To a cold-blooded animal such as
a fish, that type a change is no different than dipping your finger in
a vile of liquid nitrogen. With no way to warm their bodies they
retreat to deeper water, freshwater springs, rivers, power plants and
anything just a degree warmer to hold onto dear life. Water
temperatures in the mid to upper 50ís for us is an extreme that
likely will not last long. As the temperatures recover to more typical
winter conditions, the fish will acclimate to the cold water and we
will be in a more typical winter scenario.
During the adverse conditions,
fishing was tough to say the least. When the power plants were
generating warm water discharges, bluefish, trout, jacks, small
permit, and some respectable cobia all made the bag. Naturally, when
the plant was not blanketing the flats with warm water, the area was
cold as ice. Flats for the most part went barren. Efforts on the top
of flood tides in ultra shallow bayous revealed some redfish and gator
trout laying perpendicular to the sun in effort to sun themselves, but
were unresponsive----even to the boat approaching them. In the tannic
stained waters of the rivers, shrimp tipped jigs produced some rat
reds, black drum, jacks, small snook and good numbers of some fat
sheepshead. Throw in the oddball gar and it went as well as can be
There is however a positive side
of the story. We experienced prolonged periods of warm water this fall
that were accented by a few cold fronts. Combined, this weather
pattern had fish spread from their summer hangouts to their winter
spas. This latest blast of cold air will now send the fish to where
they should be in winter--- in the backcountry massed together in deep
holes and other sanctuaries. As the days warm, the metabolism of these
fish will increase and inclinations to satisfy their hunger and seek
warmth will send them to the shallow flats.
Trout and redfish will be the
first of species to make this trek. They are the bread and butter of
our winter fishing. Near the power plants, cobia, permit, trout,
pompano, and bluefish will roam just outside the ditch. In the deep
waters of the canals and rivers, juvenile tarpon and snook will be
more willing to oblige on our offerings.
Most importantly, the stage is now
set for a banner spring. Best spring fishing occurs after a cold
winter, as the fish migrate from the backcountry to the open flats in
search to restore lost body fat. Giant tarpon, Spanish and king
mackerel will have now left, as they should, only to return in a
typical spring fashion in just a few weeks. While over the years I
have taken my lumps in the extremes of winter, I am always willing to
make that trade in spring.
As in past new years, I plan on taking a short hiatus this week. Seems odd that one whose life finds tranquility from the water goes to the desert for a winter retreat, but trust---its all good. Upon my return I will begin the lengthy of process of scheduling the spring and giant tarpon season. Please, if you are not certain that you are on the list for the best dates in 2002, now is the time to contact me for the best in Florida fishing.
Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!
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