By David Lifka
When winter arrives in North Florida it is often hard to believe that it is really that time of year. Weather often dictates our mindset for the season rather than the actual calendar date. The same goes for the mindset of many of the fish we like to fish for here in North Florida.
As water temperatures drop many species of fish begin their retreats to warmer waters. Some may migrate to the ocean, others may choose to go south, and others just go a little deeper to avoid the cooler temperatures. But as you probably already know, predicting a North Florida winter can be difficult — and the same goes for the fishing. A warm winter can often dictate positive effects on local fishing while a cold winter’s influence usually dictates negative fishing effects.
Due to very warm temperatures through most of last year’s winter a very good fish bite remained in North Florida waters well into January. Local areas of the St. Johns River maintained a consistent bite of croaker, reds, and trout while area beaches produced good numbers of whiting and blues in the surf that was similar to a springtime run.
While warm winters are nice and they can definitely help extend a fishing season, another reality of living in North Florida is that it can get cold, and at some point, it usually does. When this occurs all is not lost as many anglers look forward to the colder temperatures to turn on the speckled perch (black crappie) bite. The speckled perch bite peaks in the winter months when colder water temperatures force them to congregate in deeper areas of lakes, creeks, and the river where the water is usually warmer.
Quite often our winter weather is unpredictable. While our calendars are telling us it’s winter, our weather apps may be telling us something different. Watch the weather and plan accordingly and don’t get cheated out of what could be some wonderful North Florida winter fishing.
Fishing Report: Get out of the house and give it try when the weather is right. On the less pleasant days, it’s time to shop for your favorite angler. Measuring devices, pliers and knives are always something in need.
Whether you catch one, some, or none, the family time spent fishing will last a lifetime.