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When the water temperature around the northern gulf coast gets below 62 degrees speckled become residents in the brackish waters of the tidal rivers that are adjacent to the Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay. The deep river channels provide the solace that they require to endure the cold ambient temperatures of the winter months. Being cold-blooded, their body temperatures are near that of the water thus, their metabolism slows dramatically. This requires them to eat less so the minimal amount of forage in the river systems is plentiful enough to sustain them through the period. Typically this period is from early December through mid-March. The most effective techniques are to drift the river channels while casting lead headed soft plastic baits until a school is located. Position yourself to present the bait properly and you should catch plenty as the fish tend to school during the winter period. On occasions where winter offers a few days of warmer weather, try fishing the flats very near the deep river channel with plugs like top water baits and slow sinking lures. The fish will often move up to feed when the water warm for a few days. The best bets for redfish during the winter months are on the bar systems at the mouth of Mobile Bay. Drifting with the tide while casting jigs will almost always produce some big bronze bruisers. In the river systems, try any creek mouth that drains the marsh- especially if there are oyster shells on the bottom.
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Conservation Tip: Although the Alabama regulation is more liberal, on my charters, I only allow 5 speckled trout per person (14”-19”) and no redfish. This is done in an effort to protect our resource by allowing the larger breeding fish to live. Redfish are also very slow to reach sexual maturity, so it is even more important to release them. If you cherish our fishery as much as I, try this lowered boat limit. Also, remember to handle the fish properly if you are going to release them. Be sure that the net as well as your hands are wet. This will protect the fish’s delicate “slime” layer and prevent infection. I always say, “A filet lasts one meal, but a picture lasts forever- you may even make this website!”