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Short list.

January makes fishing choices easier since there aren't unlimited options. Top-water plugging for bass is probably not much of an option, but crankbait fishing the ledges on Lake Talquin is definitely on the menu. Sight fishing the flats for reds is probably not going to happen, but dredging one of the passes between the barrier Islands is a great plan.

In January giant redfish show up in passes like East Pass. At almost a mile and a quarter wide, this pass is the widest of the passes and is between St. George and Dog Islands. The best redfishing in January, according to Capt. Chester Reece, is in the deeper channel which is on the Dog Island side of the pass. "The water depth drops from about eight feet to around 16 feet," Chester says. "That's where the big reds tend to bunch up, right on the bottom." Chester catches these big reds, up to 30 or 40 pounds on a variety of baits.

Sometimes he uses 10-pound monofilament and a small bucktail tipped with shrimp. Other times he uses half of a mullet smashed on the deck and fished in the deep drop-off.

Sometimes slack tide is best for these big reds, other times the incoming tide is better. There are few obstructions in the pass except for the red buoy, so there is plenty of room for light tackle. A huge red caught on light tackle is truly an exciting experience. The pass is just a short run from Carrabelle and the fishing is easy.

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Another option for redfishing is Bob Sikes Cut. This narrow manmade pass is only 120 yards wide and cuts through St. George Island, connecting Apalachicola Bay to the Gulf. The cutis partially lined with huge rocks, with a sandy bottom. The Gulf side of the cut on the east side has the deepest water and is usually one of the better places to catch a red. Some anglers also do well anchoring on the sides along the rocks. Fishing cut baits on the bottom is one of the most productive techniques. Slack and incoming tides can also be the most productive.

West Pass divides Little St. George Island from St. Vincent Island. It's a deep pass (over 40 feet deep in one spot) and is about 3/4 of a mile across. The same bottom fishing techniques can be used for redfish here as in the other passes but be prepared for catching plenty of catfish along with the reds. Nearby is Bird Island, basically a large sandbar that's exposed on a falling tide. This is a great spot to fish for redfish and speckled trout with bucktail jigs, jerkbaits and suspending plugs. These should be worked near the bottom and with a slow retrieve.

The fourth pass is also the shallowest. Indian Pass is approximately 200 yards wide and is the space between St. Vincent and the mainland. This pass is a breeding ground for hammerhead sharks during the warmer months and a tarpon hangout as well. Big redfish also show up in January and take the same baits. This is an easy place to drive to and launch a boat since the ramp is right at the pass. If the reds aren't biting, anglers can fish St. Vincent Sound for flounder and speckled trout. This sound is relatively protected and offers miles of flats behind St. Vincent Island and marshes along the mainland to fish.

Anglers who want to fish closer to shore can simply pick a stretch of shoreline and spend some quality time fishing for reds and trout. Any shoreline with marsh grass is a likely place to catch a redfish. On a rising tide, reds often move along the spartina grass foraging for small crabs and shrimp. This is a great time for anglers to ease along with a trolling motor or pushpole casting up close to the bank. Gold spoons, rubber jerkbaits, suspending plugs and flyrod streamers work well for this.

The oyster bars and points are also good places to find both redfish and trout if the temperature warms up for a few days. If it turns cold suddenly, then the best fishing will be up into the creeks that have deeper holes. The best fishing will be with a slow retrieve with the same baits. A stealthy approach to some of the smaller creeks is better since the fish in these holes can be spooky.

HUNTING The Youth Waterfowl Quota Phase I application ends Jan. 8, 2015.

BEST BET NORTHWEST

One of the things anglers can count on during January is the sheepshead fishing. Almost any place that has rocks is a potential sheepshead spot. Apalachicola Bay is packed with places and a lot of this is due to the vast oyster population.

One of the best spots is the Bob Sikes Cut through St. George Island. A fiddler crab, shrimp or even a freshwater crawfish dropped close to the large rocks that line part of this pass almost guarantees a sheepshead bite. If not a sheepshead, it might be a rock bass, grunt, croaker or even a flounder. None of these should be a disappointment since they are great for cooking a variety of ways. The smaller ones are great for making chowder and any number offish stews.
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Title Annotation:NORTHWEST
Author:Greer, Bill
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Jan 1, 2015
Words:885
Previous Article:Double up.
Next Article:Cold and blue.

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