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Ice fishing in Florida

Capt. Joel Gant
January 11, 2018
Hernando Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report

Ice fishing in Florida

I knew with a title like that I would get your attention. With some of these cold fronts, I thought we would have to start ice fishing. On many a of charters this time of year I get a lot of people from the north. They tell me stories of ice fishing and how much fun it is. Well, being a native Floridian, when you have ice that means its cold. Laughing I tell them "if its cold enough to make ice then its too cold for me".
Well it's that time of year to look for the Convict fish AKA "sheepshead". With the colder waters these fish can be found anywhere there is structure. In our area look around the rock piles, docks and channel markers. On a recent charter, I anchored on a near by rock area. I used a #1 hook with a small weight and a piece of shrimp along with cut up shrimp for chum. Within a short time we had some nice sheeps 18 - 20 inches. Size limit is 12 inches and 15 per person to keep. Bait to use: shrimp, crabs or barnacles. A good tactic for sheeps is wait till you see the line start to move before setting the hook. These fish can be real tricky and will quite often steal your baits.
Other inshore species like trout, redfish, black drum and snook can be caught in the back water areas. In our area, fish around the oyster beds, mangroves and deeper holes especially if their near a spring. The best bait to use is select shrimp, creek cubs and small crabs. With these I like to use a 4/0 circle hook with a small weight and 20 pound fluorocarbon leader spooled with 15 pound braid on the reel. The best time is two hours before and two hours after the high tide. Use caution with these extreme winter low tides we've been having.
Offshore fishing has been a challenge with the cold fronts, wind and dirty water. For those willing to take on this challenge, there are still a lot of fish to be caught. mangrove snapper, grunts, sea bass, hogfish, gag grouper (can't keep-seasonal), and red grouper are still being caught regularly. Look for them at your rock piles in 20 to 60 feet. Bottom fishing with live baits or cut bait will work best. Once we start getting some steady warm weather, the Spanish mackerel, kingfish, cobia and shark will be moving into the near shore areas.
Get out there on the water and make some memories with friends and family! I'm always looking for reports and pictures. You can email me or stop by my website and become a "FISHHEAD".
Capt. Joel Gant operates Fishdaddy Charters out of Hernando Beach, he knows the local waters like the back of his hand, family friendly and works both inshore and offshore trips. Check him out on face book or you can reach him at (352) 279-1615. Visit his website, www.fishdaddycharter.com

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Hernando Beach inshore /back country fishing on Florida's nature coast with Capt. Joel Gant check me out at fishdaddycharter.com

Contact Info:

Fishdaddy Charter
4490 Flounder Dr.
Hernando Beach, FL 34607
Phone: 352 279-1615
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