Successful anglers know one of the most important elements to having a productive day on the water is paying attention to conditions prior to and during your trip.

Most look at tide, wind speed, wind direction and water temperature, which are certainly all critical variables.

However, one factor freshwater anglers pay attention to but saltwater anglers neglect is vital to avid Causeway angler Capt. Sam Barbera.

“Barometric pressure is the first thing I look at,” Barbera said. “If the pressure is above 30.30, I’m out.

“There’s something about high pressure that turns the fish off.”

Barbera fishes the Causeway a whole lot this time of year, and although it gets its most looks earlier in the year, Barbera said it can be a treasure chest in the winter.

“The action is usually pretty consistent,” he said. “We have had wonderful days in December. 

“It doesn’t compare to a good day in April, but it seems like we catch bigger fish in the winter.”

However, you have to chose your days wisely. Going the day after a front will more than likely net you a few hours of solid casting practice and a jighead that looks like it went through World War I.

Instead, Barbera recommended going between fronts and paying close attention to water temperature.

“If you can go the day before a front, that’s normally good,” he said. “When (the water temp) gets to be 57 and below, it gets kind of (tough).

“What a lot of people don’t realize is they are looking at the water temperature on their GPS unit, which is on the surface. It can be a world of difference 14 feet below.”

In the summertime, arriving at the marina before daybreak is the No. 1 thing you can do to stack the odds in your favor. That’s certainly not the case in December, according to Barbera.

“I’m not a big believer in getting out there at the crack of dawn, especially this time of year,” he said. “I want to make sure the tide is moving and the water is warmer than it was all night.”

Fishing a dead tide at the Causeway is horribly unproductive, he said. However, unless you go on a flip-flop day, there’s always moving water to be found.

“If it’s sitting still at one point on the Causeway, chances are if you move somewhere on that 24-mile span, the tide will be different,” Barbera said.

The current dictates everything on the Causeway, from the angle of your casts to how fish relate to the piling, Barbera said.

“The tide moving through those round pilings causes eddies behind them, and the trout usually stage where they can sit there and comfortably ambush prey,” he said. “They aren’t going to sit in a high-tide area where they are just swimming as fast as they can, having to chase bait whizzing by them.”

As far as lure selection, Barbera’s favorites are a magneto-colored Matrix Shad and a camo-colored Berkley Gulp Jerk Shad on 3/8- or ½-ounce jigheads.