- Keep It Simple
- Live Bait Effective, Shrimp Works Everywhere
- Be Prepared for Big Fish and Small Fish
By Forrest Fisher
For wintertime saltwater fishing, the fun begins in Florida with cooling waters as multiple species head inshore to spawn and to search for easy forage feeding opportunities. With hundreds and thousands of northerly bound anglers also heading to the lush green vegetation and sandy beach shores of southern Florida, many travelers do pack a fishing rod. If you happen to be one of those lucky folks, just be sure the gear is strong enough to handle fish from one to 10 pounds or so, all common catches from shore or pier-fishing hotspots.
If you’re bait fishing, shrimp is always number one. Live shrimp are best, dead shrimp are next, then enter artificials. Live shrimp are often fished under a bobber, casted from a boat or while wading along the shoreline, then drifted along in search for a redfish, spotted sea trout, snook, flounder and many other species. There’s lots of ‘em! And big or small, they all fight harder than you will expect.
If dead shrimp bait, that might be best for pier fishing for sheepshead and other species, simple use a small piece of the shrimp tail, shed the shell and thread it on. These pieces can be fished off a bare hook and sinker rig or directly of a ¼-3/8 ounce jig with extra sharp hooks. Hang on, you never know what might swim by and choose to chomp on your presentation.
If you are more a caster and not prone to pier-sitting and line watching, the Berkley Gulp shrimp in the 3-inch size is the hottest thing for saltwater fishing since bread and milk for breakfast. Thread it onto a weighted hook or light jig head with a wide gap hook, you might have to look for that type of jig style – but they exist, and get into some easy fishing on the incoming tide. You can wade out in shorts of waders, but be aware, these waters also are home to sharks, sting rays and a host of other non-people friendly critters that don’t necessarily mean to hurt you, they’re just part of the package. Awareness is essential to stay in the fun zone.
Cast out your properly rigged artificial Gulp shrimp and let it sink to bottom in 3 to 6 feet of water, then start a short-hop, swimming retrieve, slow or fast, you’ll figure it out by how the fish react. Start with slow. Spend about 1 to 2 hours before taking this bait off for another if you find the fishing slow. The fish are not always there and need to move through too, so this is a bit about timing when you are fishing.
Bottom line? Hang in there with any form of shrimp bait and sooner or later, you will catch a few fish. Visit a bait/tackle shop to insure you have the rules and understanding for legal fishing, and a license, if you need it. Don’t forget the sunscreen.