Winter 2023 Fishing Report
By Forgotten Coast Web Team | December 15, 2023
Weather: Mild winter conditions with daytime temperatures hovering around 60°F (15°C), creating ideal fishing conditions.
The winter season has ushered in excellent opportunities for inshore and bay fishing along the picturesque Forgotten Coast. One of the top catches to target during this time is the sheepshead, which can be found in abundance near the bridges. Anglers are achieving success by employing small pieces of shrimp paired with sturdy shank hooks sporting 30lb leaders. To increase your chances of a fruitful catch, consider gently stirring up the fish by scraping the bridge pilings before casting your line. This method has proven effective and offers a rewarding inshore fishing experience. Plenty of whiting and white trout can be caught around the island bridge using natural or artificial bait. If you make a triangle between the new bridge, the old bridge, and the bird sanctuary and fish in the middle, you will see fishermen gathered in this area. As the water temps start to drop, you can look to deeper holes in the bay and lower parts of the river where the Redfish and Trout head for protection from the low temperatures until the sun warms the surface water.
Offshore/Deep Sea Fishing:
For those venturing offshore, winter promises exciting prospects with mangrove snapper, lane snapper, Key West grunts, and black sea bass in season. These species are best pursued using small hooks baited with squid fragments, complemented by light tackle and 30 lb. fluorocarbon leader, along with 3/0 circle hooks. To optimize your success, focus your efforts beyond the significant wrecks and ledges. Be prepared for an exhilarating fight, as the larger fish dwelling in these locations can offer a substantial challenge.
When targeting mangrove snapper, employing light line and small hooks is imperative. Entice these discerning feeders by chumming the waters with bait chunks, luring them closer for a visual feast. Once they swim into view, present a small bait piece on a hook nearby. While mangrove snapper can be selective biters, this season provides an exceptional opportunity to capture numerous specimens.
Although big red snapper and gag grouper are out of season, they come tantalizingly close to shore during the winter. Although you can’t retain them, the thrill of catching and releasing them in abundance, particularly four or five miles offshore, is an exhilarating experience.
Winter delivers exceptional freshwater fishing prospects in Franklin County. The Apalachicola River system offers fertile fishing grounds, presenting the opportunity to catch bass, bream, and stripers. This diversity of species makes it an appealing choice for anglers seeking a variety of challenges and rewards.
For those aiming to maximize their winter fishing expedition, consider booking a charter on the Forgotten Coast. Local guides with extensive experience can take you on inshore or offshore adventures, assisting you in landing a bountiful haul. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice, these guides possess the knowledge and expertise to ensure your day on the water is both memorable and fruitful.
In summary, the Forgotten Coast in Franklin County, Florida, offers a wealth of fishing opportunities during the winter season. Whether you’re pursuing sheepshead inshore, exploring offshore wrecks, or indulging in freshwater fishing within the Apalachicola River system, there’s a fishing adventure to suit every angler. Don’t miss the chance to savor the natural beauty and abundant marine life of this coastal fishing haven during the winter months.
Provided by Fisherman’s Choice, The Sportsman’s Headquarters of Florida’s Forgotten Coast since 1993. Fisherman’s Choice is a locally owned and operated bait and tackle shop that offers a wide variety of bait and tackle for deep sea, inshore/offshore, bay, and freshwater fishing.