Inshore fish will be lurking in their winter haunts waiting for hardy anglers this month.
Getting outside for a fishing trip this month can be a tough mental decision. First, you have to deal with the elements and then you have to deal with disagreeable fish. That’s a hard decision to make whether to go or not! However, many long-term coastal fishermen just holler out; “Bring it on!” If you are one of those hardcore anglers….let’s look at a few places to try.
‘Getting deep’ will be the theme of most speckled trout anglers this month. Annual rains and colder water temperatures drive specks deep into holes that hold salinity and bait. Pinto Pass on the Causeway is a traditional spot for winter specks. The pass is near deeper water of the Tensaw River that runs by the Battleship. Bouncing root beer colored Sparkle Beetles along the bottom is a great way to connect with January specks. Redfish will also be lurking in the area. The reds seem to prefer a chartreuse Beetle over root beer colors.
Speckled trout will also be holding in the deeper areas of Dog River. The area just in front of the Grand Mariner Restaurant is deep enough to hold speckled trout and white trout this month. Incoming tides seem to produce best at the Mariner as well as just outside the Dog River Bridge in the channel.
You can’t cover winter fishing for specks without mentioning Theodore Canal. This deep industrial waterway will hold saltwater and bait even after nasty winter rains. Grubs will be the ticket for both speckled trout and white trout in January. Grubs, such as the Fin-S Arkansas Shiner color can be deadly when worked up the slopes of the Canal’s turn-around basin.
If waters remain somewhat clear in January, you can locate some nice sheepshead around the supports of the Dauphin Island Bridge. Dropping small pieces of dead shrimp directly on the down-current side of the supports work best for the battling sheepshead. Sheepshead will also attack small fiddler crabs when presented around the pilings. You can locate these small crabs at local bait shops or you can catch your own around pilings at boat launches at low tide.
Fishing the Gulf beach in January is a great way to connect with sweet tasting whiting. The small fish run up and down the beach in troughs searching for food turned over by surf action. Using a small piece of shrimp on an equally small hook is the best way to connect with the small down-turned mouth of the whiting. Another bait that works for whiting is the sand flea. You’ll have to scoop them up yourself with a sand rake at the water’s edge.
Offshore angling takes a backseat to various hunting activities along the coast in January. The long rides offshore are hard to schedule with such iffy weather. However, if conditions are right, you can still connect with tuna and Wahoo around the various oil and gas rigs off the Louisiana coast. In fact, fishing right beside the rigs can pay off with some really nice grey snapper, (Mangrove).
On the way back in from an Alabama offshore mission, you can try the close-in rigs to connect with black drum, redfish, white trout and sheepshead hanging around the rigs. All can be caught on fresh dead shrimp as bait.
January can be a cruel month for the bass angler’s on the coast. Relentless north winds lower water levels and wave action tends to muddy the waters as well. Finding decent water can be a struggle. Creeks in the Tensaw Delta can harbor some agreeable fish if conditions line up. When fishing these creeks in winter you can cover the area by fan-casting from side to side in the creeks with a shallow running plug, like the Mann’s Baby One-Minus. If you encounter any wood structure you might try fishing it thoroughly with soft plastics or jigs. Bass are prone to school up around the structure, if large enough.
“Drop baits around boat docks and piers to locate the nice Fowl River bream.”
If you can’t find clear enough water in the Delta you can try the protected areas of Dog River. Smaller creeks such as Hall’s Mill Creek and Rabbit Creek can hold both fish and fishable, somewhat clear water.
White perch can be found in Bay Minette Creek and Basin this month. Look for grass edges and wood near points. Small spinnerbaits, in chartreuse, white/blue or pink can all tempt the perch to strike. One of the best-known structures to fish in the area is the bridge that crosses the creek on HWY 225. If they are still available, small live shrimp are irresistible to the white perch when fished around the bridge pilings. Any bass lurking nearby will crush the shrimp too.
Bream will slightly difficult to figure out in January, due to the possibility of cloudy, murky waters. Looking towards the back of creeks at low tide seems to be a good way to find the bream on the Delta this month. Use live crickets or worms to tempt the bream. You can also find some nice bream in the Dig River Creeks as well as in the upper end of East Fowl River. Drop baits around boat docks and piers to locate the nice Fowl River bream.
Fishing in January can a lonely game. Many sportsmen and women are still in the woods chasing deer or in the marsh after ducks. However, the absence of competition can be a good thing! Be sure to be safe on the water and wear that life jacket.
See you on the water.
Mann’s Baby One-Minus