Fishing Lines: Best winter fun is offshore

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By Capt. Dennis Voyles

Happy Holidays, everyone.

The recent cold front brought in some much-needed rain, but blew into town like a named storm.

This front will likely be the final straw for flats fishing out front, which is good news for those with go-devils, jet foot propulsion and, of course, airboats.

The deeper creeks in the backcountry can really hold a good mix of fish in the winter. Often times, from one anchor you can catch reds, trout, sheepshead, flounder and black drum, often in impressive numbers.

The area rivers also attract large numbers of winter trout and reds, especially after an extended cold front, causing the fish to seek a few degrees warmer water temps.

Tactics are mostly simple, offering live shrimp on sensitive light line tackle so that the slightest soft bites can be detected.

Keep your presentation simple, and remember that these cold fish will eat when presented, but will not likely chase a lure like in the spring and summer.

Offshore is nearly the opposite. During the winter, grouper will chase down an oversized trolling lure even at speeds of seven or eight knots, then smack it like they are trying to bust it in half.

Bottom fishing is super right now, too. Your frozen baits last longer and the grouper will hit it like a freight train on certain occasions.

It's a good time to fish, but be sure to leave a float plan before leaving port. The float plan may be the most important part of planning your outing.

Hope the holiday season is all that you wished it to be. If you know a serviceman or woman serving on foreign soil, please keep them in your hearts and prayers during this special time of the year.