Tampa Bay Fishing Report January 2012

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Posted by: Captain Woody - Comments Off on Tampa Bay Fishing Report January 2012

I can’t believe it 2012 already it seems like the years just fly by.

As people get into fishing they often think it’s some kind of sport or hobby that involves bait, rod and reel, and then heading off to a nearby stretch of water; where they throw in a line and wait for an unsuspecting fish to bite their hook.

Many times these people will catch fish, but probably not to the potential they might like; when done correctly consistently catching fish is often more difficult than simply baiting a hook and tossing it in the water.  When done successfully there are many things to consider. Some are the same as when you make purchases on anything else around the house. You might ask “where is a good place to go for big screen television?” In the same way all retailers don’t sell the same model televisions; certain waters hold certain types of fish. Since businesses have certain business hours in which their customers can make a purchase; the same holds true for fish. Only with fish it’s called feeding times. If you figure out and understand feeding times and fish during those times, you’re likely to catch fish.

Learning this information can take time because each species has many different variables.  While many have the same or similar characteristics; still they are all individual fish species, so there are going to be differences between them. Some fish feed at different times, some prefer a high tide and some an incoming tide, some prefer fish baits and some prefer shrimp and some you’ll only find in winter and others in summer and that’s only a few of the variables. When you begin figuring it out, it starts to make sense and you can experiment with different methods of fishing.

One popular method around the flats is site fishing. While it’s a great way to fish you really don’t have to sight fish to catch snook and redfish. Many anglers simply toss their bait to places where the fish are likely to be. The ideal place to find snook and redfish is along an undulating mangrove shoreline, but not just any shoreline. There miles of shoreline surrounding Tampa Bay; and for this reason you need to narrow down your choices by looking for the places where birds and especially egrets are feeding especially on low tides, it’s a dead give away the when the water returns fish will follow. They’re after the same small bait fish, crabs and sand worms that the reds and snook are eating.” If there aren’t any birds around, fish around overhanging branches or where trees have fallen into the water.

The time of year also determines where to fish. Snook follow a well-defined pattern. During the coldest months of the year, usually January and February, most snook move up the tidal rivers, often ending up in small water fresh water creeks. In March, as the water begins to warm, snook move towards the coast. During this time you can find them inside, as locals call the inland bays and creeks or outside, which refers to the tidal channels and bays closer to theGulf of Mexico.

By May and continuing through October, snook fishing is strictly outside. The fish begin to spawn in May and continue into the summer. They will prepare to spawn in the passes and move just offshore to release their eggs.

After October, the fish will remain outside as along as its warm and the bait fish are around. When the first few cold fronts move through and the bait moves out, the snook head inland.

The best time of year for redfish is from August through November. This is when you find the big schools of fish on the outside flats and in the passes. At other times of the year, you may encounter reds just about anywhere in the bay area; usually swimming alone or in pairs; with plenty of small reds in creeks and channels. Redfish don’t seem to be too picky about what they eat. Live or dead baitfish or shrimp, gold or silver spoons, or jigs are the most popular choices. Jigs are very popular because of their versatility.

“Let’s Go Catching”

Snook: Remember they go deep seeking warmer water. Top baits include live greenbacks, shrimp, small pinfish and dead-sticking cut baits. Artificial lures do well during the winter but plan on fishing deeper. Topwater lures although loads of fun seem to work better when surface water temperatures are higher. Good choices include subsurface sinking or suspending lures. Soft plastics using at least a 1/8 oz jighead always produce during the winter. If live bait is your choice shrimp always entices a bite especially if they are hungry.  

Redfish: Normally continue being active because the cooler water doesn’t affect them like it does Snook. Grass flats with broken bottom, submerged oyster bars and mangrove shorelines normally hold hungry Redfish. Artificials still work during the winter and for us diehard surface anglers they can’t resist a surface walking topwater lure. Greenbacks (if you can find them), shrimp, dollar size pins, cut bait and patience do the trick.

Spotted Sea Trout: Action should go on the upswing with cooler water temperatures pushing them inshore. Fish strong tides around deepwater flats. They eat shrimp, pinfish, and greenbacks. Deeper flats, good moving water, and a popping float prove deadly in catching nice Trout. Especially when rigged with shrimp, either live or artificial. Soft plastics on a jighead always produce when bounced off the bottom. 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.

Cobia Don’t be surprised to sea a one on the back of large Rays and Manatees. As the waters cool you should see them around or migrating toward the hot water discharges of power plants. But don’t think you’re going to be alone in these areas… there will be plenty of boats. Large shrimp on a ¼ oz. jighead normally does the trick. But small or chunk crab also works.

Sharks also frequent the warm water discharges this time of year so don’t be surprise when you catch one while targeting Cobia.

Sheepshead will show up everywhere during the winter months. Try fishing for these great fighters around markers, bridge fenders, docks, seawalls, rock piles, oyster bars or practically any type structure. Shrimp and fiddler crabs always produce, but green mussels and oysters also work.

Captain Woody Gore – Give Me a Call & Let’s Go Fishing Captain Woody Gore is the areas top outdoor fishing guide. Guiding and fishing theTampa,Clearwater,St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs,Bradenton, andSarasota 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.