By Capt. Adam Morley
On a chilly morning, as winter’s embrace touched the Matanzas River with a festive crispness, my friends Mike, also known as the St. Augustine Sandman, and Jake joined me aboard the skiff, eager to unwrap the secrets hidden beneath the cool, clear waters. The flats, like a snowy canvas, seemed to be holding their breath, creating an illusion of stillness in the holiday air.
As I guided the skiff through the shallows, the riverbed revealed its own kind of holiday magic. Initially appearing devoid of life, it was a quiet prelude to the enchanting spectacle awaiting us. Lo and behold, a school of redfish emerged, their scales shimmering like ornaments beneath the surface. Mike and Jake, with the enthusiasm of children on Christmas morning, readied their lines for this festive angling adventure.
The smaller redfish, like mischievous elves, sought refuge in the deeper holes, joined by trout and black drum creating a harmonious underwater carol. Meanwhile, the larger redfish, the true yuletide rulers, positioned themselves near the shallows, their vibrant red hues reflecting the warmth of the season, never straying far from the comfort of deeper waters—a holiday tableau unfolding in nature’s own theater.
The ideal conditions for this festive fishing spectacle were painted by calm, sunlit days, with the low tide in the afternoon revealing the river’s bed like a gift waiting to be unwrapped. As the water levels gently receded, the winter sun cast its golden glow, coaxing the fish into a slower, more deliberate dance—a winter waltz, if you will.
Sight fishing during this holiday season became a joyful exercise, a chance for Mike and Jake to connect with nature’s own winter wonderland. From the elevated perch of the casting deck, each cast felt like a gift tossed into the river’s embrace, a hopeful offering to the aquatic residents in their holiday finery.
In pursuit of these festive fish, Mike and Jake turned to lures that echoed the spirit of the season. The Minorcan Tackle Co. jigs, akin to delicate holiday baubles, danced in the water, capturing the attention of the discerning redfish. The Fishbites Fight Club Lures, with their whimsical curtail or paddle tail, added a touch of holiday flair to the angling experience. Slow and deliberate, the retrieval mirrored the unhurried pace of the season, creating a harmony between angler and fish.
As the skiff glided through the winter wonderland of the Matanzas River, and each cast became a gesture of holiday cheer, Mike, Jake, and I couldn’t help but appreciate the magic of fishing during this special time. The joy of the season, the quiet beauty of nature, and the connection to the river’s timeless rhythm created a holiday symphony, resonating with the spirit of Christmas on the water.