Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winter fishing tips for the Low Country

Winter in the low country is a great time for winter fishing.  The water gets clear and the red fish school up making them easier to find.  If you can deal with the cold and the wind you may just be rewarded with some Red gold.  We have an awesome year round fishery and so many people put up the fishing gear for winter and miss out.  Now you can’t fish the same way in winter as you do the other seasons, the fish habits and patterns change so you have to switch up your tactics.  As the water clears up you want to start using clearer soft plastics.  You need to work them slower and have a little more patience but again it pays off.  The live bait is still here, it never totally leaves but the quantities of live bait are diminished.  The scarcity of live bait works in our favor, with soft plastics and other artificial baits your chances on hooking up on fish is better than usual.  The D.O.A. shrimps are a great choice for winter fishing.  Match the clarity of your bait to the water.  If it’s still a little stained use a clear bait with some opacity to it, clear with gold flakes, green with flakes or the new penny colors work well.  Opening night is a killer color this time of year as well.  The clear bait with the pearl top and the glittery flakes in it mimics a glass minnow perfectly and that is trout candy my friends, redfish have been known to crush that color pretty regular too.   Z-Man is a local company the produces some of the best soft plastics on the market and best of all they are a local company to the low country.  I always encourage people to buy local and Z-man fits the bill with quality products, great prices and they are about as local as you can get.  I hear some new baits are in the works and if they stick to their usual practices, once we see them they will be the usual high quality, fish catching machines they are known for!  I wish I could get a sneak peek but, knowing the new line-up is in the works gets me excited. 
Fly fishing is no different; you have to switch up your tactics and your flies.  The bright flashy flies of spring and summer are replaced with darker colors of flash, very sparse, and muted dun colors are the ticket.  Crab patterns will still work but smaller baitfish patterns will trigger strikes and land you more Red gold.  The Trout are deeper and are looking for baitfish patterns tied sparse and not as flashy as well.  Of course the old stand-by clousers in olive and shite and chartreuse and white are killers but make sure a few black on black and black and purple clousers are added to your arsenal of winter patterns.  Finding a school of reds hemmed up in the shallows can provide the adrenaline rush we all crave.  Working the edges of the school will help not spook the rest of their schoolmates, but you always get “that guy” who likes to run right through the middle of the school and sends all of them scattering.  The fight can be a little muted in cold water.  A friend on a recent trip was fighting redfish that were jumping like largemouth bass.  I have noticed that a spooked redfish will usually return to the pocket they were in if you stay quiet and leave them room to move back in, so if you do spook a fish or a school, back off and give them a little bit, they should be back.  Redfish this time of year tend to get a little more aggressive this time of year.  Sometimes you have to weed through the smaller fish, the little guys are trying to bulk up and are far more aggressive than the bigger ones at times.  One last peice of advice for cold weather fishing, as much as it sucks make sure you use wet hands to handle the fish if you take them out of the water and grab your trophy pictures quickly and get the fish back in the water as quickly as possible, none of us likes to be out in the cold when we're wet.  It helps save the fish for another day.
Whether you are throwing soft plastics or a fly, slow down your presentations, work the edges and this should land you more fish.    Tight lines and screamin drags to ya’ll this winter!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Playing with a new cannon

I have recently been handed a new Temple Fork Outfitters, Mini-Mag fly rod to play with and check out.  Wow.  Just Wow.  I have casted a lot of fly rods and this one ranks right up there with my March Brown Ltd. Rods I own , and the Sage and other TFO rods I sell at the shop.  Being an 8ft rod I was a little skeptical.  Normally those heavier 8 footers are not as good as they sound, the usual light 5wt 8 footers are perfect for the size but when you are talking about 8-10wt rods 9ft is the norm.  I took this rod out on the lawn and stripped some line off and began to cast. I started out short, 20ft casts and I could feel the rod wanting more.  I stripped out more line, another 30ft, and it still wanted more. I was amazed with the power this had.  Before I knew it I was throwing an 80ft fly line AND about 10 feet of backing through the tip top.  I could not wait to get this thing on the water.   This is a 3-piece rod and according to TFO, they have utilized their “Bluewater Technology”, a hybrid of S-Glass and high-modulus carbon fiber) to give this rod exceptional lifting power and casting ability.  I know a little about rod manufacture but I had to look all this up.  This rod has the power and backbone to handle everything from a big Large Mouth to a big ol Redfish.  They say it’ll handle Tarpon so I’ll have to get back to ya on that one.  I took this rod out yesterday and was even more impressed.  I started out throwing a heavy crab pattern and although the rod handled it and got my fly where I wanted it, it was a little clunky.  I switched to a lighter fly and this rod came to life.  A quick flip and I had a 30ft cast right where I wanted it.  My accuracy and distance was on and I really think this rod helped out.  Cast after cast this rod performed.  My arm wasn’t worn out after a day of casting and I was ready for more.  I am going to take it out in the Sweetwater and see if I can nab a few bass on it but I am pretty confident it will perform just as well there as it did in the salt.  If you get the chance, find one of these and give it a wing.  I am pretty sure you’ll be as impressed as I am.