Monday, December 8, 2014

Dealing With Cold Fronts On Pine Island

This is unfortunately a common sight at my boat ramp this time of year.  Strong winds and overcast skies can drop down on us for days at a time after a cold front and we've had two in the last four weeks.  If I have a charter booked for a day like this I always give my anglers the Get Out Of Jail Free card and let them make the call to go or cancel.  I've never forced a paying customer to go out on a day that I would personally prefer to stay home.  Don't get me wrong, I like making money but there is a big difference between giving it a shot in tough conditions and knowingly taking someone for an expensive boat ride. 

So what should you expect if you show up at the ramp and the sky looks like that photo?  Well, if you're a spin fisherman and there's a good incoming tide, then we'll probably go as long as it's not too chilly.  And for me too chilly means anything under 50 degrees.  I know a lot of my anglers from New York of Minnesota will laugh at that but I live in Florida for the 350 days each year of temps above 70.  I can sit out the dozen or so days when the Polar Vortex reaches down this far, and the fish usually feel the same way, too. 

With spinning gear and live bait there are numerous back bays and mangrove shorelines where we can hide from the wind.  It might not be the most exciting type of flats fishing but I've pulled a lot of redfish out of some of our creeks on days that really didn't thrill me at first. 

If you've come down here hoping to fly fish just after a cold front it might be a different story.  I can deal with wind and I can deal with clouds but both of them together are usually a nightmare for most fly anglers.  If your experience level is casting a 5-weight on a trout stream, I'll probably offer to reschedule you if the day looks a bit on the cruddy side. 

Fortunately for us, strong winds and cloudy skies are the exception and not the rule down here.  Our last few winters have been surprisingly mild on Pine Island, despite the horrible months that the north had to endure.  So don't worry about the long range forecast if you have a trip booked with me over the next few weeks.  Chance are we'll get out on the water and see some decent fish while we're at it.