Since juvenile redfish overwinter in inshore locales, these cold-blooded creatures will seek out the warmest places available. Marinas and artificial canals scattered from Carolina Beach to the South Carolina state line can be some of the best places to tangle with redfish.
Over the past 50 years, canals and marinas have multiplied, providing boat owners with a protected place for access and to moor their vessels. But the concrete jungles stacked with fiberglass and wooden pilings - and other floating masses - can be some of the best places to find energetic fish in winter.
The inherent nature of these boat basins protects these waters from blustery winds and traps the sun's rays that warms these hideouts several degrees above neighboring marshlands. In winter, two to three degrees is sometimes the difference between a feeding school and a lethargic group in a frozen stupor.
For most of the winter, water temperatures drop to a level not suitable for baitfish, shrimp and other forage, yet protected marinas can provide semi-suitable conditions for small baitfish and possibly a few shrimp schools, allowing redfish and other predators to collect a few meals even during the worst conditions.
Warm-water havens with a marginal food source will attract more than redfish in winter. Overwintering schools of speckled trout will slide into these protected areas, as well as, black drum and flounder, too.