Overall fishing has been good in the bay area with plenty of Snook, Redfish, Sea Trout, and Sheepshead being caught. A few Cobias reported around the power plants and plenty of smaller Black Tip, Bull, Bonnet, and Hammerhead sharks willing to give you a tug. Without the colder water temps needed send them looking for warm water, they are not as bunched up as usual. But when they are you can bet you’ll have plenty of company fishing the warm water runoffs. Shrimp always work, and using a small jig head makes it easy to sight cast the fish.
The Grouper bites been fairly healthy, inside the bay. I’ve had the most success trolling various rock piles and structure in and around the 20- to 25-foot range. Many Gag hunters think the only place to catch inshore Gags is the shipping channels. Plenty of structure around if you’ll only take time to look for it on your bottom machine. Try this: when you catch a Gag, mark the location and go back to see what kind of bottom you came over. Often a pinfish, grunt, sardine, or piece of squid dropped down on a knocker rig at the same location will produce other nice fish.
Snook (Still Closed): The cold water has the Snook bite pretty much on hold. Of course, you can always dredge up a couple if you look and fish hard enough, but why bother. Give them a break until the water warms up and they get a chance to recover from the winter temperatures.
Redfish: Reds continue being active in the cooler water. They’re not as big as usual and I’m getting plenty of reports that rat Reds are running around with the occasional group of larger fish hanging around grass flats with broken bottom, submerged oyster bars, mangrove shorelines, and canals and channels. Live shrimp seem to be the bait of choice, but artificials like the 3" gulp shrimp still works.
Spotted Sea Trout: Trout action should continue on the upswing with cooler water temperatures. The larger fish should start pushing onto the flats from deep water. Fish the stronger tides around deepwater flats and rocky islands. They’ll be eating shrimp, small pinfish soft plastic lures, either free-lined or under a popping cork. Remember, the bite always comes as the baits begin to fall, so don’t be surprised to have a fish on just after the lure hits the water. The MirrOdine from MirrOlure is one of the best trout lures you can fish. Fish it using a slow methodic retrieve and hang on.
Cobia: Don’t be surprised to see one on the back of large rays and manatees. As the waters cool you should see them around the hot water discharges of power plants. Large shrimp on a ¼ oz. jig-head normally does the trick. But small or chunk crab also works. Keep a larger gulp eel rigged for a quick cast should you come across one sunning while running the open water
Sharks: Also frequent the warm water discharges this time of year, so don’t be surprised when you catch one while targeting Cobia.
Sheepshead: These stripped fighters will show up everywhere during the winter months. Try fishing for these great battalions around markers, bridge fenders, docks, seawalls, fish attractors, rock piles, oyster bars, or practically any type structure. Shrimp and fiddler crabs always produce, but green mussels and oysters also work.
Give Me a Call & Let’s Go Fishing. Captain Woody Gore is the area’s top outdoor fishing guide. Guiding and fishing the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Bradenton, and Sarasota areas for over fifty years; he offers world class fishing adventures and a lifetime of memories.
Single or Multi-boat Group Charters are all the same. With years of organizational experience and access to the areas most experienced captains, Woody can arrange and coordinate any outing or tournament. Just tell him what you need and it’s done. Visit his website at: WWW.CAPTAINWOODYGORE.COM, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at 813-477-3814.