The water on our shallow flats is cold, very cold. Sadly many trout fishermen won’t even try for them until the spring warm-up. That’s wrong. Instead of sitting home brooding in the dark, put on some warm clothes, gloves and maybe a ski cap, and head on down to your favorite shallow water. Some fish are still there. It’s just going to be a little harder to catch them.
Spotted seatrout like water that is 70-75 degrees, but they will live…and eat…in water as low as 60 degrees. That means that although the flats might not have huge schools of feeding fish, plenty of trout will still be hunkered down in deep pockets with dark, heat-retaining bottoms.
The same goes for dark mud flats, or even over oyster bars that are exposed part of the day absorbing heat from the winter sun. When the tide submerges these bars they become a magnet for trout seeking the warmth they provide. Pure sand bottoms are cold and should be avoided. No trout on them.
Successful winter trout fishermen know that the secret is to go slow. Fish have an internal calculator that tells them how many calories will be expended chasing down baitfish as opposed to how many calories they’ll get when they eat that baitfish. Put simply, if the food source is too far away or moving too fast, they pass. Your goal is to find the fish, cast your bait as close to them as possible, and retrieve slowly.
This is best accomplished by using a suspending lure and work it slowly along just above the bottom. Don’t worry about the lure snagging. The water you’re fishing will be only a couple of feet deep, shallow enough for you to stick your rod tip into the water and free it. Then move on to another spot because you just spooked any trout in the area. When you start fishing again speed up the retrieve just a tad so you don’t snag again.
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