Charter fishing in Destin, FL has slowed down due to the winter months; however, there are still plenty of fish inshore to be caught, such as Redfish and Sheepshead.
Redfish are one of my favorite species of fish to target on a charter. They can be caught almost anywhere in the bay on a variety of different types of tackle and baits. Bull Redfish in the state of Florida have a slot meaning that keepers have to be within 18-27 inches to harvest and two per person per day is the limit. Typically in the winter months, Bull Redfish which are over the slot, will school up in large groups in the bay and off the beaches in the Gulf of Mexico. An easy way to locate these fish are to find flocking birds diving for bait. Once you have located the schools of fish, most charter boat captains like to troll deep-diving lures called stretches (hot colors are pink and orange.) You can also throw large jigs or live fin baits at these Redfish schools. Redfish are not very picky at the type of baits they eat due to the lack of baits in the area this time of year. If you want to target slot Redfish this time of the year, many charter boat captains will buy live shrimp and use a simple Carolina rig to fish around the west Destin jetty, Destin Bridge channel, Coast Guard station, and Brooks Bridge area. Typically using the 20-30 pound Flourocarbon leader with a Owner #3 circle hook and a 1/4 to 2 ounce slip lead depending on current strength. This time of the year, you can also locate Redfish along docks, grass beds, and sandbars feeding on crabs, shrimp, and small live baits.
Another fun and easy fish to target during the winter months are Sheepshead, also known as the Bait Bandit. Sheepshead have to be 12″ to harvest and keep 15 per person per day. Sheepshead fishing can be enjoyable, but frustrating at the same time due to them stealing bait relatively easy. Typically when I’m targeting Sheepshead on a charter this time of the year, I will fish around bridge piling, rock jetties, or off of the beach in the Gulf of Mexico. I use a Carolina rig, but I will downsize my hook and Fluorocarbon leader size. When targeting Sheepshead, I prefer live shrimp or raw oysters. Most charter boat captains scrape the side of the pilings to chum up the waters prior to catching Sheepshead. Remember when you are using a circle hook, not to set the hook, they are designed to do all the work for you, just reel when you get a bite.
I hope some of this information helps anyone how is looking for a little winter fishing action. Feel free to call me about any charter questions or fishing tips.
Tight Lines and Good Fishing-Capt. Joey!