The best time for man to fish oftentimes isn’t the best time for the fish to feed.

While that statement holds a lot of water per se, it isn’t something we can’t do anything about – it just means we need to understand the variables we need to deal with, adjust and do what we can to produce.

Probably one of the most often overlooked factor in fishing, especially those that have less experience, is water temperature. Since it’s cold out these days, let’s talk about fishing in colder temperatures and how to find success. This is something that can be used for both inshore fishing as well as offshore fishing.

Cooler temperatures across the region put a lot of outdoor activities in motion, fishing is definitely one of them – from the handful of nuts that fish throughout the year, the number increases tenfold, or more, when winter comes – majority think the only time to fish is winter, for good reason – this is pretty much the only time of year when fishing is pleasant, the cold is easier to deal with. Of course, warm clothes, a cup of coffee or tea pretty much fixes things. The heat of summer is too much of a handful – even if you fish naked in the summer, you would just be burnt to a crisp as opposed to being baked alive when fully clothed – Bottom line, it is far easier to manage your fishing in the winter than it is in the summer.

Naturally, cooler ambient temperatures also equate to lower water temperatures and for cold-blooded animals, fish included (except for one), become lethargic. Unlike lizards and snakes that are able to sun themselves, fish can’t really just go up to the surface and sun themselves, some can, but majority adjust to the cold temperatures by lowering their metabolism and as a result, they move slower and feed less.

When the cold comes, fish generally like snacks more than meals, and the easier they are to catch (less energy spent) the better for them – this means fishing slow and fishing small. This could be quite a challenge to a lot of people who are used to slinging big lures on big line, as this means lighter rods and reels, as well as lighter lines and leaders to be able to fish tiny lures more effectively.

Tiny is relative – some might consider 40 grams as tiny while others would consider it a big lure – The way I look at things, it depends on where you fish. For example, 40 grams would be pretty small in Fujairah while it would be pretty big in Dubai waters when the mercury plummets.

While it’s normal for anyone to use 200+ gram jigs off Fujairah, fishing cold water, I would drop down to 80g and use lighter line, and fish my jig slowly and would most likely get more hits in the process, in the gulf side, if I would normally use 40-60g jigs, I would drop down to 10-20g and fish lines as light as 3kg.

Scaling down your line and lure would also mean that you need to scale your leaders down – fishing with as light a leader as I could possibly get away with, like 4kg max for my 3kg line keeps me in contact with the bottom more than a thick leader would.

For my fishing style/system, the gear set I use for cold water is the same as my high-pressure area gear set. The only real difference would be leader length – I use longer leaders for high-pressured area, whereas I use shorter leaders for cold water – As the braid and leader, even on quite light poundage, have a huge variance on diameter. The effect a long leader makes is the opposite of what a short leader does – the rate of fall of your lure.

Although most thin braid would be suitable, I find a really round braid gives you consistent results, especially when dealing with currents, drift or both.

Sufix 832, Pro8 and the new X8 and 131 are great lines and I got some great results with them, the newer X8 and 131 are quite strong and round, but when I need to go even thinner, the 832 and Pro8 provides me with the diameters I need to sink 5 grams in 20m of water.
Juggle a few brands to your preference and find what works for your fishing style, but the key is to be able to maintain contact with the lure at all times.

As for lures, good types for cold-water fishing, and quite possibly a very good go-to lure type would be soft plastics. Metal jigs are great too; just ensure that you are using one that flutters a lot because you won’t be moving them a lot, a few jigs and pausing for longer periods works more than vigorously working the jig.

My go to jigs for this type of fishing in deeper water off a boat or a kayak are the smallest Gomoku Slow Rocker, Gomoku Koika and Gomoku Micro Jig. With the Microjig going as low as 8 and 12g – they see the most action in the coldest outings.

Tiny soft plastics like the Gomoku Bulky Ring, Soft Minnow and Soft Straight are all great slow presentation baits – there are others and depending on your fishing style, you can find what works for you.

Rod and Reel
We all have our preferences and there are a lot out there that are suited, and depending on where I fish, I use a Rapala Reranga or Vespida depending on the weight of my lure – offshore I have been working with the Gomoku Emera Limited with great success. When I need a longer rod on shore, I have a Shimano 8’6 solid tip rod that has both the range and sensitivity for fishing the light lures I need to convert bites. For reels, I mostly use 1000-2500 size reels from Shimano, of course you can use any brand of your preference.

Would bigger lures work?
In the last trip I made, I used an 80g jig in 20m of water, just to be able to get a good angle on the drift, which at that point was pretty swift. Although the thought behind it was to target the biggest fish swimming in the area, I was still able to get strikes from smaller fish. This certainly proves the fish are still aggressive, but the strikes were few and far in between and I had to work a lot slower than I normally do.

The Docan Snapperball proved to be consistent, even when I bumped the size up to 120g in 20m of water and a fast drift, it consistently caught fish – it caught more fish than the rod that had bait in fact, the key is to find the speed the fish wants and just do that until they stop biting and then either speed up a bit or slow down and find what speed gets them to bite again.

Bait obviously works and offers a distinct advantage of scent – however, in the last trip, most of the big fish; especially the biggest fish on the trip was caught on a 12g jig, fished with 3kg line on a 3kg leader.

We still have a few months of cold weather out there so make use of it, when the weather warms up, the number of fishermen will get cut down and before you know it, there would only be a few nutcases out and about. ■

Stay warm and enjoy the winter’s fishing!

Till Next Tide Change,


The Fishing Kit
Our fishing pro who shares his experience and expertise with OutdoorUAE through his regular column.

Written by: Kit Belen
Photos: Kit Belen

Find shops & equipment

Find the best shops in the UAE to buy outdoor gear and other equipment

View Routes & Locations

Check out routes, camping spots, historic sites or other places in the region

Read the magazine issue

this article was published in OutdoorUAE printed magazine issue #93 February – March 2019

Related Articles

Find more articles covering the same activities, as the one above. Please note many articles may cross over only and are no 100% match. Enjoy browsing through amazine adventures and stories:

Summer Night Fishing in the Desert

There are few things you’ll experience only once in your lifetime, and there are those that you suffer through willingly with some sacrifices each year. Going out in the middle of the night, suffering temperatures of...

Summer Slamming – I Don’t Stop Fishing Just Because Its Hot

Summer came late this year and there are no signs of people stopping. Personally, I don’t stop fishing just because of a bit of sun, ok, who am I kidding, it’s a lot of sun, practically Mercury when summertime fishing,...

Abu Dhabi – A Flats Fishing Paradise

Plan for the hot summer months with a few tips Summer in the UAE, many anglers think this the time when one cowers from the sun in the comfort of air conditioning. The extreme weather boasts high humidity and soaring...

XQuarry Off-Road & Adventure Park opening 4th February 2021

“Outdoor lifestyle is all about experiences - no matter if a sporty challenge, exploring new places or just spend quality time outside with family and At the XQuarry Off-Road & Adventure Park Grand Opening weekend,...

The Rahal Desert Challenge is premiering between 3rd and 5th December 2020

But why Rahal? A free translation of the Arabic rooted word means “Traveler” and that is what the participating teams will do. Traveling through the desert on a very challenging track with many different types of...

Summer Night Fishing in the Desert

There are few things you’ll experience only once in your lifetime, and there are those that you suffer through willingly with some sacrifices each year. Going out in the middle of the night, suffering temperatures of...