Autumn Gold & January 2011 Fishing Report

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Posted by: Captain Woody - Comments Off on Autumn Gold & January 2011 Fishing Report

I’m often asked which, is my favorite season to fish.  Reflecting on the question, I’ve discovered that anytime I can get out and fish it’s a good thing. Nevertheless, if I had to pin point a specific time, it would most likely be the early and late fall. While we don’t have the magnificent color changes like our northern neighbors we do get some awesome weather patterns. Early mornings are cool and there’s usually a light fog lifting from the water. Could it get any better, for an avid artificial lure angler, like me… probably not? Overall, it’s God’s way of saying thanks big guy for enduring the hot days of summer.

Some folks really enjoy sports and often remark that autumn is time for watching football games. While I agree to a point, let me tell you that getting on the water especially, at day break is one of the most wonderful sites you’ll every witness. The anticipation of working a topwater lure over a broken-bottom grass flat can be both exhilarating and breathtaking.

Long ago, my good friend, Captain Mike Anderson, and I discovered that in Florida we can do both. We’d get started early, share some quality time discussing solutions to the world’s problems while tossing artificial lures to snook and redfish. After several hours of relaxation, and solutions we’d head home to eat lunch with the family and catch our favorite football games.

Is Fall Fishing Easier: Perhaps so, but it can be challenging at times. To me, fish seem more catchable during the fall, because the water is cooling, which signals the onset of winter. To sustain the cooler winter temperature and sometime shortage of food supplies, fish need to bulk up which, means adding fat and to do this they need to eat. This brings up another point about fall patterns; the plentiful summer bait schools seem to disappear. With its departure comes the likelihood that fish will eat your artificial lures.

Fall and winter tides often make navigation a bit interesting particularly when looking for enough water to fish. Fortunately, low tide days also make it fairly simple to find them if you know where to look. They’re staged in deeper holes, canals, rivers, or depressions waiting for the next incoming tide. I often tell anglers, there’s one good thing about low fall and winter tide; at least you know where you’re not fishing. 

What’s Biting on Tampa Bay in January?

Snook: If you’re determined to target snook this month be prepared to fish several locations. They’ll be around, but usually not bunched up like early spring. The water temperatures start falling as we into our colder months and when this happens, snook normally migrate toward warmer waters. Unless they get caught in an early winter chill or prolonged cold period like 2009, they should be ok. Many will move into rivers, channels, deep creeks and deeper estuaries. Like other fish with low tolerances for cold water they move to areas with deep muddy bottoms. Muddy bottoms hold heat; and it’s for this reason that it attracts baitfish and fish that eat them.

Redfish: December usually means good redfish days. We’ll be targeting them around oyster beds, mangroves and shallow water pools on those low tide days. Wading is a great way to fish winter redfish. Like other species, redfish will drop into the tidal pools left when the winter tides expose everything else. The most certain thing to remember about winter tides is; at least you know where you’re not fishing. Redfish will be eating all types of live and cut bait as we approach the winter months. They’re also fairly easy to catch using artificial lures. If you’ve never used artificial lures, do yourself a favor and give it a try. If you’re out the excitement of catching and releasing; artificial lures offer you a chance to pit wits with one of the toughest competitors in the bay. 

Spotted Sea Trout: Winter usually signals the beginning of trout season. Hundreds of anglers take to the water to catch this beautiful fish. Typically, a schooling fish where you catch one you’ll usually catch several. One point to remember is when you’re catching 12 to 15 inch fishing that’s normally what’s in that particular location. Larger trout are not a fast on the trigger as the smaller ones, so they elect not to compete, but rather hangout alone, watching a pothole for a quick meal. If you’re using live shrimp just hop and pop it over a broken bottom grass flat and shortly you’ll have a limit for dinner. Trout are loads of fun on artificial lures and I’ve caught some really nice fish tossing jerk baits to sandy potholes. With artificials you have the opportunity to cover more area thus exposing your lure to more fish.  

Spanish Mackerel, Kingfish, Bluefish, & Mangrove Snapper: Travel across the bay and you’ll pass no less than 10 to 15 schools of feeding fish. Usually the first thing you’ll see is birds eating the leftovers of the feeding frenzy. These schools of feeding fish usually consist of ladyfish, mackerel, bluefish and jacks. Many anglers turn their noses up at these species thinking they’re junk fish. Granted ladyfish and jacks are not decent table fare, grilled or smoked mackerel and fried bluefish are excellent. For some great rod bending action these species make an excellent quarry, especially for beginning anglers and anglerette’s. When introducing children to fishing it’s important to take them catching… they’re not interested in fishing. If you don’t get them on a bite quickly they lose interest and probably won’t want to go next time.

The kingfish and mackerel will be hit or miss along the beach around hard bottoms holding bait. Snapper are on the markers and fish attractors and also around bridges and older established docks. Small pilchards and shrimp seem to do the trick.

“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 wgore@ix.netcom.com or give him a call at 813-477-3814.