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January Inshore Report

We finally got enough cold to really push the fish down, but tightly schooled fish are still feeding on the warmer days, and have moved deeper on the colder ones. Find a creek, mud flat, and deeper water close together, and you have a better chance of finding one of these schools. The difference in temperature in the backcountry and out in the Bay can vary widely on the extreme days, so consider the tide when trying to follow fish to the warmest waters.  Like last month, Lynnhaven, Rudee, both seaside and bayside on the Eastern Shore, and the western shore marshes all offer spots worth checking out.  These fish are holding tight to the bottom, and want a subtle fly/lure and a SLLLLLLOOOOOWWWWW presentation. Once you're fishing painfully slow; slow down. Small Zman jerk shads, Mirrolure Lil’ Johns, and ned rigs are good options.  Flies should also become more subtle.  The water clarity we enjoy during the winter means natural colors should take precedence over the purple and chartreuse options that help when we are competing against an abundance of bait in the water. With that being said - warm days can turn on schooled redfish to the point they'll even swipe at topwaters.

Speckled Trout are still biting, and the cold is starting to thin out the ridiculous crowds at the most popular launches on the Elizabeth. Depth is going to be dependent on relative temperature, and when it comes to trout, ledges are never a bad spot to spend considerable time exploring.  Slick Lures and Paul Brown “Devils” remain this year's most popular, but the Paul Brown “Fat Boy” and a wide variety of suspending crank baits work well, along with, shocker, MirrOlures, like the 17MR (don't sleep on the 19's or 22's, though) .  Topwater strikes are not as effective as they were, but on overcast days on a warm stretch any hit that does happen won't come from a small fish.  Fly anglers need sinking lines (give it actual time to sink... not just after your cast, but at times during a retrieve) and patterns that can suspend with action. Large deceivers, EP patterns, and big articulated patterns are ideal.

The rockfish have seemed to find their way to the mouths of rivers already, and in normal fashion, steep ledges and structure are the place to be. The HRBT and MMBT are providing opportunities already and should only get better before they really start heading up towards their spring spawning locations. A paddletail on a jighead can work well and be an efficient way to get to the depth you’re looking for. When a school is found, jigging big spoons can be very productive in enticing big fish.  The backcountry isn't producing as well as it has in the past, but swimming a Mirrolure Lil’ John can produce fish, and fly anglers know that it’s nearly impossible to beat any variation of a Clouser Minnow when it comes to Stripers.  We’re currently in season on our rockfish, but the fishery has been beaten down for a number of reasons.  The season is closed inside the bay and it's tributaries, so make sure any fish you take swim away. They're hopefully moving their way up towards the spawning grounds to create a foundation for the future of our fishery.

Bundle up and get out there!  We’re lucky enough to live in a 12-month fishery, so take advantage of that when you can!  

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