This might be one of the absolute best times of the year for trout fishing, particularly when we see a warming trend like the one we’ve been having from Christmas into the new year.
My go-to trout zone now is the expansive grass flats and spoil islands south of the Anclote River along St. Joseph Sound and the Intracoastal Waterway. Here the trout school in January and February, even when water temperatures are a lot lower than they are now. The fact that it’s been warm is just a bonus and makes the fishing even better.
The water can be crystal clear, and that’s good for our fishing. We’ve been taking some jumbo trout, and it’s the ratio of big fish that’s been most impressive lately. Almost every trout we’re taking is large, and we’re seeing oversized fish with regularity.
Live shrimp is always a sure thing with these fish, but plugs and jigs are very effective. The key is working the water column from top to bottom to get an idea of what depth the fish are holding, followed by working the baits at that level, be it down near the grass and potholes on the bottom, up near the top or somewhere in between.
A lot times we’ll hop between the spoil islands along the waterway, as these banks produced by the dredging of the channel are fish magnets, as the shallows offer protection for small baitfish and crustaceans the trout are after. The lush grass beds often surrounding these islands hold stacks of trout ready to pounce on wayward baitfish (and our lures).
Trout don’t get nearly the respect they deserve, as they are feisty fighters, and the big ones like we’re getting now are always a thrill to catch. Don’t miss out, because it’s hard to beat the action you’ll find right now.