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The Bite In The Bay: Let's Go Fishing In December

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On: Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 3:57PM | By: Captain Woody Gore


Tampa Bay is Florida’s largest open-water estuary, covering 400 square miles, with a watershed more than five times that large, encompassing a massive 2,200 square miles. With an average depth of 12 feet, Tampa Bay is considered one of the most extensive estuaries in Florida with a wide diversity of sea life. For those unfamiliar with what an estuary actually is, it’s a semi-enclosed body of water where freshwater from the rivers and creeks meets and mixes with the saltwater from the ocean or, in the case of Tampa Bay, the Gulf of Mexico. Estuaries are considered one of the most productive environments in the world and are often referred to as nurseries for fish and shellfish, and a place where young marine animals can hide from predators. If angling is your recreational pleasure, then Tampa Bay and the inter-coastal waters of the gulf certainly offer some awesome fishing opportunities.

While fishing in Florida can be done comfortably year round, fall offers some excellent opportunities on a variety of species. On fishing excursions some species you’re likely catch include Snook, Redfish, Cobia, Tarpon, Trout, Grouper, Kngfish, and Mackerel.

As we approach the cool water temperatures of winter, shallow water fishing definitely improves. The fish start feeding fairly aggressively for winter and become more active as they search for food. They’ll take an assortment of baits from live to dead. And since they will have large appetites anglers will have greater success using a wider range of artificial lures.

Snook: Snook are usually tops on the list as the fall transition has started and we are catching Snook on just about every shoreline. They are still on the protected list but are still fun to catch and release. The best bite has been at the beginning and end of either incoming or outgoing tides. Snook normally respond live baits as well as top water lures, jerk baits, and shallow diving lures. However, we’ve been have good success on dead baits on the bottom.

Spotted Sea Trout: NO CLOSED SEASON! Sea Trout are found inshore and near shore in and around sea grass flats, mangrove shorelines, deep holes and channels and above oyster bars. Free-line live shrimp or small pinfish near the bottom to entice trout out of grass-bed holes. Attaching a float will allow these baits to drift over the grass beds. Casting with soft-bodied jigs and top-water poppers can also be effective. Trout are very delicate, so returning unwanted or illegal fish promptly to the water is necessary to maintain a healthy population. Spotted Sea Trout are a good eating fish. Otherwise, winter’s a great time for the big gator Trout, especially as they start working their way into the back-country and deeper grass flats.

Redfish: The Reds are still biting, and some are still schooled up biting everything tossed in their direction. They should continue to be consistent on the flats and around the mangroves. A variety of artificial lures are catching their share along with live shrimp, sardines, and pinfish. The key to finding Redfish is fishing dark patchy bottoms, especially around schools of larger mullet. Although chumming with live bait works, tossing dead cut bait around the mangroves on flooding tides usually brings them out to investigate. Most are holding close to the shoreline. Also found near docks and pilings, deeper holes and channels during warmest and coolest months around grass beds and oyster bars. Use live shrimp fished on bottom or free-lined, or use soft-bodied jigs bounced slowly on bottom, or use small gold spoons.

Flounder: Found near channel edges on sandy bottoms, near tidal passes and docks. Use live shrimp, small sardines/greenbacks, sand fleas, sardines, pinfish, or jigs bounced along bottom as you drift.

Inshore Gag Grouper: The inshore Grouper bite will pick up, especially as the water temperatures cool down. However, you cannot keep any fish caught after October 31. Recreational Gag Grouper season is only open from July 1 through October 31 each year. It seems ridiculous to me but we let them do it to us so it’s hard to complain about it. Fishing should be good when we can avoid the northerly cold fronts and high winds. Lots of fish near shore and Tampa Bay fish coming up with a few really nice ones, but they’ve got to go back.

Kingfish, Spanish Mackerel, Bonito, Bluefish: December cold fronts are here and so are the traditionally high winds that follow. As the water temps fall with each passing front the near-beach Kingfish bite should improve. Tons of bait should bring the Kings, Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish and Bonito within a mile or so of the beach or inside the bay. We’ve been having great success on huge Spanish Mackerel inside Tampa Bay.

“Give Me a Call & Let’s Go Fishing” - 813-477-3814 Captain Woody Gore is the areas 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 wgore@ix.netcom.com or give him a call at 813-477-3814.




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