By Jimmy Tomazinis

I hope everyone is having a great winter season and staying warm throughout. Other than the three-day cold snap in December, we’ve continued to have some comfortable weather to fish in. Water temperatures have been trending from 55 to 62 degrees, though I’m sure they dipped lower than that in December. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to fish those days. 

I heard about and saw some fish that weren’t able to make it through the cold water temperatures including a small tarpon in Doctors Lake. I’ve seen armored catfish and tilapia floating around Julington Creek. These two species are considered invasive and seasonal cold weather provides much needed relief to limit their encroachment on our native fishes. 

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Specks continue to be the best bite in the river and local creeks. Larger fish have still been in the main river but the increasing numbers of quality fish in the creeks seem to be indicating they’re coming in preparing to spawn. Many of them already show signs of fattening up with roe. Jigs and minnows are still productive for them around structure and deeper holes. 

While I understand that specks are considered excellent table fare and not necessarily a popular catch and release species, I would like to introduce a little selfish conservation plug. Specks and many other fish can easily be caught in high numbers when spawning or preparing to spawn since they congregate in relatively small areas. Females tend to be the larger fish caught and more often kept because of this. One egg-laden female can produce thousands upon thousands of eggs so the more females we can keep in the water to spawn, the more fish we’ll have next year. Specks and all fish are resources we share as anglers. Our actions will affect the quantity and quality of those fisheries. 

I haven’t caught a shrimp since December and wouldn’t expect to luck into any until next month — and with that probably a few more saltwater fish. Sheepshead, redfish, and flounder will start to fill in with them. We’ll talk more about that next month. Surf fishing for whiting is still an option for you this month as well as fishing inshore waters like I mentioned in last month’s report. Until then, we’ve almost made it through the cold, so stay warm, stay safe, and tight lines. 

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