Yes, I’ve been around the sun a few times and yes, for the fisherman, winter can be tough. If you’re a deer and bird hunter, you’re good. Fishing? Tough. So, what can you do? For a significant bunch of time, you can ride over the bridges, look at the lakes, plan for and dream of crappie in the shallows in February and largemouths and spots ranging in their spawning rituals.
Well, for you guys, here’s an idea that you can handle easily for a few days and fill some welcoming practice casts. Head South. Lake Seminole’s grassy flats and off colored water can and will produce dozens of hearty strikes. Full moon in December and January can get you through your obvious dreary moods. Feeling aggressive? Pack up and give Okeechobee a few tries. Best Guide on ‘the big “O”’ is Tom Mann. He was a champion on Lanier a couple of decades ago and now is in residence in South Florida. Check out his website and place yourself holding a few of the eight pounders he catches daily. Bet you’ll be smiling. Here’s an interesting note: Okeechobee – at about 500,000 acres – is the largest freshwater lake in the US that is land bound. Great Lakes are larger but eventually connect by water to Canada’s land borders.
Then, too, how would you feel about a Georgia coastal adventure for giant redfish and flashy speckled trout? Captain Mark Noble at Sea Island can handle that for you for sure. I’ve fished among those Georgia Islands with Mark many times and the “catch” can be astounding with many days catching and releasing over 500 pounds of beautiful reds. The minimum length for a red to keep is 14 inches and Mark’s advised minimum limit is 20 inches. In 10 trips with Mark, I’ve never caught a red small enough to legally keep. I’ve caught many over 40 pounds, however.
If heading to saltwater or south for gamers is not enough, let’s change species. Catfish! Where in the winter months is that worthwhile? Captain Darryl Smith is the avenue to travel. You and three other guys can fish with Capt. Darryl on his 30-foot pontoon dragging cut bait over the submerged islands and channel breaks at Santee Cooper Lakes but be prepared to harvest at least 200 to 700 pounds of giant whiskered faces. Darryl holds 17 “line class” records and has caught many cats of 100-plus pounds. I fished with Darryl about 10 times and was always glad that I’d brought along an extra-large cooler for the trip home. My biggest cat following Darryl’s instructions: 63 pounds.
Photos: courtesy of O’Neill Williams