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Winter fishing still a hot option

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Winter fishing still a hot option

Capt. Greg Peralta shows off a nice winter redfish caught on a plastic bait. Photo provided.

Unless you are hardcore, you've probably already packed away your fishing gear and awaiting warmer weather. If so, you're probably missing some of the best fishing of the year.

Yes, it can be cold. It can be rainy. It can be cold and rainy. But that doesn't stop the fish from feeding.

"It's the best time," said Capt. Greg Peralta of Shallow Water Charters (shallowwatercharters.com or 843 224-0099) on Daniel Island. "Earlier this week, between 8 and 11, I released 73 trout on the same lure."

And it's not just trout; the reds also can be enticed if you play your cards right.

Shifting weather patterns can cause the bite to slow, but it doesn't shut completely off. Peralta said he continues to sight fish in shallow water for reds. He said the reds would spook if you cast too close or there was any type of motion with the lure.

"I cast well ahead of the fish (10 to 15 feet) and just let it sit," he said. "These Z-Man plastics are buoyant, so the tail is always up. There's always a very subtle action in the current. The reds would swim up to it and eat it. Any type of motion, they would skip it."

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His go-to rig these days is the Z-Man MinnowZ in the Bad Shad color with a 1/8- to ΒΌ-ounce Predator Slayer jig head, depending upon the water's depth.

"If I'm fishing in grass or a lot of oysters, I'll rig them with a flutter hook so it's kind of weedless," Peralta said.

Peralta is a firm believer in artificials, saying he uses them year-round, particularly soft plastics. He also uses suspending hard-plastic baits for trout.

"The bite is phenomenal on lures these days," Peralta said. "I think artificials are more productive than fishing with bait under most circumstances. You get to keep the lure in the strike zone for the most time."

So don't pack away your fishing tackle just yet. Pick a good day, and if Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, dress warmly, find yourself a sheltered creek and prepare to enjoy the best fishing of the year.

The South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council has announced that recreational harvest of gray triggerfish in the South Atlantic region is closed and will reopen on Jan. 1, 2015. Commercial harvest of gray triggerfish closed May 12.

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