Tampa Bay Fishing Report February 2019

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Posted by: captainwoody - Comments Off on Tampa Bay Fishing Report February 2019

Snook: Still catch and release until 2020 fishing is one of those on then off again things in the cooler

Heather Overstreet found this giant cruising the mangrove shade line along the southeast shore, she temped it with a fresh greenback and look what happened. Nice catch Heather.

months and it also depends on the bait situation. They do seem to be making a recovery, but there is still no reason to open a season on them until we have some decent fishable numbers. The size being caught is average to small, but if the season remains closed the larger fish will come. If you can get live baits you’re ahead of the game. Greenbacks off the flats usually run smaller during the cooler months, so downsize your circle hooks and leader. As temperatures drop and you feel like you just have to target snook, look for deep water canals, rivers, creeks with deep muddy-bottoms.

Redfish: Still catch and release until May 10, 2019. When the cooler weather shows up, the algae’s dies off, and the clearer waters can trigger some good site fishing. Also, the low winter tides make red fishing a shallow water anglers dream. As usual, the reds are hanging in mullet schools so chunk in some cut or live bait. If you like walking shallow-water in waders; be sure to toss a few artificial’s into those sandy potholes. With over 200 species of fish in Tampa Bay, you never know what you’re going to pull out. There is also some exciting action when pitching soft plastics or MirrOLure topwater lures around the mangroves, especially on incoming tides because redfish tend to be more active during tide changes.

 Spotted Sea Trout:  Take an incoming or outgoing tide then add a MirrOLure Top Dog lure and start walking it across the surface of a broken bottom grass flat. Now prepare yourself for some fantastically awesome trout action especially on a cool, calm, and early Tampa Bay morning. But when the sun comes up, don’t forget the old standby live shrimp or a DOA under a popping cork for some fast fish results. The trout population is getting stronger and some larger ones are showing up. The 20 plus inch fish seem to be more plentiful than I can remember. Don’t forget to put a few back since those over 20 inches are the breeders and without them, we don’t get any more.

Snapper and Sheepshead: Note of Caution: In-line Circle Hooks (Florida & Federal Regulations require all recreational anglers and commercial fishers using natural baits and targeting any reef species including snappers, in Gulf waters and inshore waters which include Tampa Bay must use In-line circle hooks. Be sure they are not off-set hooks, since hook manufacturers make both kinds.)

When you’re going out for some snapper action it never seems to be a problem with plenty both nearshore and all around Tampa Bay. And over the bay anglers are coming in with a few really nice snapper and white grunts. Most docks are also holding plenty of both snappers and sheepshead. The south end near the Skyway Bridge and south end channels and rock piles are producing some good sized fighters. Over the years and depending on the depth and current, I’ve found a slip sinker rig very effective in catching snapper or sheepshead. Sheepshead: Sheepsheads are found around bridges, oyster bars, and deep water docks. Try using green mussels, fiddlers (if you can find them), small black rock crabs, shrimp or oysters and scrape the pilings to get them going.

Here’s my slip sinker rig. First, attach a 15-30” Seaguar Premier Fluorocarbon leader directly to Seaguar 20# Smackdown Braided mainline. Next comes a small soft glow bead, egg sinker (size depending on the depth and current) another small soft glow bead and finally a 1/0 Daiichi In-line Circle Hook. The soft glow beads allow the leader to slip freely through the egg sinker without sticking on the leader to braid or leader to hook knots. This allows the bait to be held directly on the bottom and if using live bait it can swim free of the sinker.

Cobia: Cooler temps should push the fish into or near warm water runoffs at local power plants. When fishing these restricted areas be sure to adhere to the rules. Also, don’t forget to check the shallow water beach edges adjacent to the power plant runoffs because they also seem to hold some nice fish.

Captain Woody Gore’s Guide Service is the area’s top outdoor fishing guide service. He’s guided and fished the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Bradenton, and Sarasota areas for over fifty years and offers world class fishing adventures and a lifetime of memories.

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