Rig Up with These Baits and Tactics for Cold-Water Fishing

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Not everyone has the luxury of living in warmer coastal climates during winter. Snowbird or full-timer, these baits, and tactics are proven successful this time of the year.

Do the jig

It doesn’t get much simpler than tying on a bucktail jig. Tip it with a soft plastic trailer like a Berkley Gulp! Shrimp or Swimming Mullet. Keep it simple by alternating between the jig and trailer or just using the soft plastic bait on a jig head. You can find out which combination is best based on success.

Hit the holes

In cooler water, baitfish concentrate in deep holes like canals, channel edges or depressions near the shoreline. Bridges and piers are good, too, because they offer refuge from the current. That makes a sinking minnow irresistible for its erratic action resembling a disoriented baitfish. The Rapala X-RAP Saltwater 12 has a slow sinking action that allows you to focus on fishing specific depths until dialing into the fish. Once you find the right depth, the suspending action of the bait keeps it in the chosen strike zone. Let the bait drop into the holes to score.

Keep it up top

Now is the time for catching big speckled trout as they aggressively feed prior to spawning. Make long casts for spooky fish in clear water with a classic Heddon Zara Spook. If the schooling action slows then switch back to the jig and shrimp trailer and keep it moving, but in deeper water.

Spoon feeding

With the water clearer than most seasons, the flash of a gold 1/2-ounce Johnson Silver Minnow gets attention. Add a soft plastic trailer for added strike appeal, and fish the spoon over flats covered in aquatic vegetation.

Pop that cork

You can’t beat the real thing. A pre-made popping cork rig will catch just about anything swimming. Redfish, flounder, drum, cobia, striped bass and speckled trout all fall for the sound and splash of a popping cork. Cast it out, pop the rod tip a couple of times, wait and repeat. Popping corks are most productive in calm water. Prime places are shell bars, sand bars, flooded grass flats and the mouths of bayous or rivers.

For all of the above, the best part of the trip is staying near shore instead of making long runs in the cold wind.  A top choice for fishing in shallow water is the JVX Series by Carolina Skiff. A lightweight hull and modified V-hull design combine for a boat that will carry more, go further and faster with less horsepower.

You get excellent maneuverability and handling with the positive tracking keels. Patented splash guards provide the smooth, dry ride that Carolina Skiff has been known for after 30 years and counting in the business.

Fishermen have plenty of options from which to choose from the JVX Series. Those are a center console, side console and the SS Series, the king of versatility in skiffs. The SS is available in three different sizes (16, 18 and 20 footers) with two different control points. Those include a stick steering bracket for the greater visibility when running over extremely shallow water.

Nine different models are in the JVX Series lineup, and you can customize the rig to fit angling needs.

See the full line of Carolina Skiff boats at carolinaskiff.com. With 60 different options and models, you can use the Build A Boat feature. On the website, you can find a dealer, request a catalog and more. Check out the loyal following of Carolina Skiff fans and owners on Facebook.