an angler fights a fish while flats fishing

Another day on the flats

Flats & dock light fishing have been steady on Quiet Waters trips run out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key. The last cold front made it official – winter is definitely here.  The sea trout bite has been dependable over the past few weeks. Redfish have been in skinny water and snook have been sluggish on cold mornings.


An angler holds a snook

Jon with a dock light snook

Snook are not the biggest fans of cold fronts. Their priorities change from finding food to getting warm. On cold mornings on the flats, they’ve been in shallow water trying to warm up. Canals with dark bottom and depth have been holding snook as well. They have been far more active in the afternoons and early in the evening on dock lights. On dock lights, we’re transitioning to smaller flies. Small clousers and glass minnow patterns have been producing.


Two anglers hold a redfish

Bill & Loren Found a few redfish

Redfish have been very active in shallow water. We have hooked a few in potholes, but we’ve been hooking most of our redfish in water less than two feet deep. The Aquadream ADL series spoon is producing in shallow water. In potholes, we found success by bouncing soft plastics on jig heads. The MirrODine XL wasn’t a bad option over potholes either.


angler holds a seatrout

Bill took this seatrout with a Mirrodine XL

Seatrout of all sizes provide some of the most consistent action in the winter. We’ve found them stacked up in deeper sand holes on cold mornings with low tide. Bouncing a soft plastic off the bottom is more effective than a straight retrieve with cold water temperatures. It’s also wise to shorten up to a shorter soft plastic on cold mornings. Later in the day we’ve been able to target larger fish in shallow water and on the edges of potholes with the MirrOdine XL. A long pause after a few twitches with that plug really seems to drive seatrout crazy.

Looking Ahead

An angler holds a redfish

Loren’s redfish via the Aquadream spoon

Getting a later start on cooler mornings is a prudent decision this time of year. Having the sun up for a couple hours before you get on the water can make a huge difference. If you’re fishing the flats on low tides, key in on the deep sand holes. They won’t all have fish, but the sand holes that do are usually holding many fish. Targeting small sand spots and the ends or edges of larger holes seem to be producing the biggest fish.

Another key to success on colder days is to slow down your retrieve. If you’re moving your bait too quickly, you’re going to miss a lot of fish. Use an Aquadream spoon to cover water in shallow areas where you suspect redfish are holding. Artificial shrimp worked deep and slowly around docks is an excellent way to target snook right now. Keep your eyes on the wading birds and mullet and spend a little extra time working those areas.

Stay Warm!

Captain Brian Boehm
Quiet Waters Fishing
Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Sarasota, FL