Some pretty cold weather has set in around Atlantic Beach, but that hasn’t stopped anglers from catching plenty of red drum and sea trout. These two species are definitely the stars of the show this time of year. Casting topwater plugs on the high, falling tide is a good tactic for both species, said Matt Zook of Capt. Joe’s Bait and Tackle.

“We’ve got plenty of red drum in the area. They don’t stop in the winter like a lot of fish do. A lot of them are slot-sized fish with occasional bulls mixed in,” he said.

Some of the red drum are schooled up, but many are still scattered. Either way, Zook said the way you’ll find them is by seeing them near the surface.

“Especially on a nice sunny day, you’ll find the redfish near the top. They’ll be easy to see,” he said.

Of course, when the water is clear enough to see the fish, it is also clear enough for the fish to see us, so it’s important to not crowd the fish too much. Many anglers look for schools, then anchor well ahead of the ones they find, then cast to them as the schools swim by. Others use a trolling motor to stay parallel to the front of the schools, staying a casting distance away, and never throwing to the middle of the school.

Zook (252-222-0670) said one of the most important things to remember when fishing this time of year is to keep your retrieve very slow.

“These fish will readily bite topwater plugs like Heddon Zara Spooks, but the key is fishing them slow. It’s common for anglers to fish these plugs slow throughout the year, but during these cold months, you need to fish them really slow. Painfully slow,” said Zook.

The sea trout are also willing biters this time of year, and Zook said the only difference between them and the red drum is that you won’t see the trout near the surface.

“You’ll just catch them in the usual spots like deep holes around oyster beds, and where smaller creeks empty into bigger bodies of water. They will bite smaller Zara Spooks and MirrOlures, and one of the best ways to catch them is on soft plastics,” he said.

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