Winter Fishing – Pensacola

 In Blog, Fishing Reports

Pensacola Bull RedfishWinter time, a time when we are all celebrating the Holidays with our family and lounging around the house drinking hot chocolate. Most anglers have winterized their boats and put up the fishing equipment this time of year longing for that first good warm front to get back on the water. Well, winter fishing for me spells two things, big Trout and big Redfish. This is the time of year when guiding is slow, the tournament season is over and I finally get to go fishing for fun.

Around November every year Pensacola has what I call the “Running of the Bulls”. Large female Redfish, commonly known as bulls, migrate from offshore to the shallow water flats of our bay to breed. These fish pack up like wolves chasing schools of finger mullet and menhaden around. This is my favorite time to fish for them, they are schooled up on the surface, crashing these schools of bait and they will eat anything you throw at them. These fish can weigh roughly anything from 10 to 50 pounds and be nearly 4 feet long. I love putting my clients on these schools because its non stop action, even on a fly rod. I primarily catch them on a 1-2 oz plain jig head paired up with a Z-Man Fishing Products 9 inch Grubz tail in the Pearl or Neon Pink colors.

Pensacola Gator Speckled TroutMy next sought after fish is the Speckled Trout. This time of year, the water temperature is dwindling and the fish slow down to save their metabolism. No longer can you consistently find them in the shallow water flats and grass beds that we do in the warmer months. They have migrated to the deeper parts of the bay and river systems. I find them around our deeper oyster beds and our rivers like Escambia, Black Water, and the Yellow River. I like to target them with the Z-Man 3.75″ Streakz  and the Z-Man Fishing Products Scented Pogyz in natural colors such as Smokey Shad, Shiner, Mulletron and Red Bone. I rig them with a natural colored jig head only heavy enough to get through the current and reach the bottom. Work the lure slow on the bottom, I mean VERY slow. These trout will not expel a lot of energy to chase their prey down so slow and steady wins the race. This is also a good way to pick up a bonus fish like a Flounder. My other favorite lures for this time of year are the Paul Brown Original Suspending Twitchbait in the Pink/Black Pearl, Pearl W/Black Back and the Pink Silver as well as the MirroLure Heavy Dine in the number 11, 808, 21 and BNSBO colors. These lures are meant to be worked very slow and consistently product big trout that’s why they are a staple in my tackle box.

So from now on, don’t let the cold weather keep you cooped up in the house all day. Break out the cold weather clothing, the boat, and some of your favorite Z-Man lures and go catch some big Trout and Redfish. Follow those tactics and you will surely be successful.

Tight Lines,

Captain Chris

Captain Chris
Born in Pensacola, Florida in 1983, Captain Chris cut his fishing teeth on the bays and backwaters of Pensacola Bay as well as the Alabama and Tensaw River System in south Alabama. When he wasn’t on the baseball diamond he was at home casting rubber plugs into buckets in his parents back yard. Little did he know that all this practice and preparation would undoubtedly prepare him for the career as a Professional Angler. Captain Chris graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University Of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida in 2007. Which he spent much of his early 20′s as a computer programmer while spending all his time and vacation chasing a dream of a Professional Tournament Angler and starting the ultra popular fishing guide service Fish Happens Outdoors based in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida. After much success in local and regional tournaments throughout the early 2000’s, he decided to jump into the world of professional tournament fishing and made a name for himself on the IFA Redfish Tour and the Louisiana Saltwater Series from 2007 to 2010. Finally in 2010 he saw his chance to change careers and pursue a dream. Captain Chris was invited to join the ultra exclusive invitation only tour, the become a full time pro and joined the Academy Sports & Outdoors Professional Redfish Series which was filmed specifically for air on the Sportsman’s Channel. Having success with several top 15 and a top 10 appearances in his rookie year. Captain Chris is always evolving as an angler and business owner, looking to improve his knowledge and hone his angling skills. You can always find him stalking the flats in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida or burning up the interstates on the tournament trail.
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