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The Bite In The Bay: Winter Wade Fishing

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On: Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 1:12PM | By: Captain Woody Gore


It’s that time of the year when we get those negative tides; you know the ones I’m talking about, where you can barely get the boat off the trailer.

How about trying something different this winter? If you’ve never experienced this thing called wade fishing you’re in for a special treat. I’ve spent many hours wading Tampa bay and catching plenty of fish. Just go to your favorite grass flat and get out of the boat or wade in from shore. Winter’s negative low tides create the perfect opportunity to catch plenty of fish and experience another world of fishing.

Depending on the weather, you might want to invest in a pair of waders, or at least some hard soled dive boots, to protect your feet. Other than that it’s just get in the water and go.

One other piece of wading equipment I always found handy was one of those inexpensive, small, blow-up boats. I’d load up an extra rod or two, my tackle box, and a small cooler, then tie it to my waist with a small piece of nylon rope about 25 ft. long and head out. The reason being, inevitably I’d get a ½ mile down the flat and something would happen to my rod or reel, but the small rubber boat saved the long trip back to the truck.

Over the years, I’ve wade fished the south shore of Tampa Bay from the Little Manatee River down past Port Manatee. These flats trap loads of Trout, Redfish, Sheepshead, and Flounder. Many times you’re walking in only ankle-deep water, but you’re pitching your lure or baits into deep depressions in the sandy holes and inner oyster bars, which are normally covered with water on higher tides.

Many folks have good success with live shrimp, but as most of you know I’m an artificial guy. For me, I’ll always tie on a jig head and use a soft plastic tail. The simple reason for using an artificial lure is I can cover twice the area and, many times, catch twice the fish.

With the negative low tides beginning to show up it’s a good time take advantage of some great wade fishing. Fortunately Tampa Bay and the surrounding areas offer some excellent shallow water to drop a line.

Head for Fort De Soto and Joe Island flats on the south end of Tampa Bay or check out my old stomping grounds around the Cockroach Bay flats; but if you live north there’s always Weedon Island, Fourth Street, and the shallow waters north of the Courtney Campbell Causeway that offer great opportunities for wade fishing.


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