January is one of the tougher months due to water temps dropping to the mid to low 60’s. A lot of species slow down and are not as anxious to hunt down food, especially the snook. The only rush we have from the snook this month is site casting to some big girls under the lights at night or during the day when they are pushed up on shallow mud banks sunning themselves half out of the water. While this has pushed the adrenaline button, it hasn’t pulled on the drag with these fish more interested in staying warm rather than eating. The snook I have coaxed into chewing are all under slot fish and coming on artificial lures that mimic the small minnows that are in the canals.
The frustration of the snook bite has been softened by consistent action from the regular dock species of reds, sheepies and drum on shrimp as well as trout action on soft plastics on the flats.
This time of year on windy and cold days it is good to turn to taking care of tackle and rigging on your kayak. One must for kayaks, especially dock fishing, is having an anchor trolly system. This system will allow you to adjust the position of your anchor from middle, to front, to back without pulling up and resetting you anchor, and in the process change the angle of your kayak. This is paramount with dock fishing and can make or break a day, allowing you keep you facing the dock without having to fish sideways or casting over your shoulder all day. You can have a kayak shop install a kayak trolly system with pullies or you can go economical and make your own by simply running parachute cord from the front to the back of your kayak and complete it by tying in a loop in the rope to attaching your anchor rope with a clip.
Since I am on anchoring, another handy piece of equipment to have is an anchor pole. These can easily slide into one of your scupper holes and works great for me when I am standing in the kayak and drifting shallow flats. I can use the stick anchor to hold me in place and pull it easily and allow the wind and tide to drift my way across a flat. You can purchase anchor poles, but again I enjoy trying to use inexpensive things I already have around the house that can do the job. This winter I have had fun making my own out of bamboo pools, even taking time to sand them down, engrave my logo onto it and varnish them. A pvc pole with a t-bar handle works great too if you don’t have bamboo.
I have reached the point this winter when I start longing for spring fishing patterns, hunting down mackerel, kingfish and grouper on the beaches and snook making their way to the passes and beaches, but with at least two more to go, I will remain thankful for my residential canals and adjacent grass flats. And who knows, even with the cold weather, a snook has to eat. I just hope I am there when he finally gets hungry.