I dream about living somewhere that I can be in boardshorts and flip flops 365 days a year. Although I might be able to pull that off in SE North Carolina, I'd be pretty uncomfortable for at least 4 months of the year. The cooler weather, dead grass and being forced to wear shoes used to give me the blues. It was depressing. Until about a decade ago, when I first realized that I could pursue my favorite fish on fly and light tackle 12 months of the year. During the season that most anglers have their gear gathering dust in the corner of the garage, anglers in the know are chasing away their winter blues with some winter reds.
A lot of things change during the December through March winter-time fishery.
The fish are no longer spread out through the marsh in singles and doubles. Most fish are schooled up for protection during the winter in groups from 50 to 500 fish. You may search a dozen creeks and bays without a sign of life...but when you find the right spot, there could be multiple schools equaling huge numbers of fish.
The marsh can be pretty devoid of prey items in the winter. It's usually just a few remaining mullet and mud minnows. Because of this, the redfish are very willing to eat as long as they aren't spooked.
And the other big change is the water clarity. During the summer, water in the marsh can range from "slightly stained" to "my lure just disappeared an inch under the surface". As temps cool in the winter, the water becomes crystal clear in a lot of places. In the dead of winter, you can run through 6' of water in the marsh and see the bottom as if it's 6" deep.
Put all those elements together. Hungry fish. Schooled up. Super shallow. Crystal clear water. And you have a fishery that is worlds apart from what everybody thinks about when they think redfish.
Line it up with a sunny day, low winds and mild temps, and you might have one of the most amazing days on the water you could imagine. Nothing's perfect, and there are no guarantees in fishing, but if you put some time in you just might start liking the "winter blues".
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