Tampa Bay Fishing Report January 2008

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Posted by: Captain Woody - Comments Off on Tampa Bay Fishing Report January 2008

Tampa Bay’s Fishing Report January 2008

January finally brought a few cold weather days at least enough to kill my plants and hopefully push some of the larger Sea Trout inshore. Trout are now legal as of January first in the southern region. However the season closes in February in the northeast and northwest. For anglers normally fishing the northwest region your daily catch is five Sea Trout. However if you’re looking for nice trout dinner during February and fishing the southern region remember you’re limited to only four trout and they must be landed in the southern zone. So, don’t launch at Anclote, catch your trout in the sound and return to Anclote you’ll be in illegal possession of Sea Trout and subject to a fine if caught. It’s confusing, but it’s the law.

For the most part it seemed like spring all month long. The fish can’t decide whether to make the run for the rivers and creeks or stay on the flats. Well maybe this month we’ll get some colder temps. Now don’t get me wrong I like these warmer winters. Like most crackers born in Florida, when the temps drop below seventy degrees I start digging out the winter duds.

The fishing overall has been good in the bay area plenty of snook, reds, trout, and Sheepshead. The cobia bite been slower without the colder water temps needed send them looking for warm water. But plenty of small black tips are around the Big Bend Power Plant and readily take shrimp offered on a jig. These guys are loads of fun and eat pretty well provided you bleed, eviscerate and quickly put them on ice until you can clean them. The grouper bites been fairly well, inside the bay. I’ve had the most success trolling various rock piles and structure in and around the 20 to 25 foot range. So many folks think the only place to catch inshore gags is the shipping channels. Well guess again. Plenty of structure around if you’ll only take time to look for it on your bottom machine. Try this, when you catch a gag, mark the location and go back to see what kind of bottom you came over. Often a pinfish, grunt, sardine or piece of squid dropped down on a knocker rig at the same location will produce other nice fish. Finding new locations is time consuming and you can believe no ones giving you a free ride with their numbers.

Snook (Closed Season December 15 through January 31 and May, June, July, August)
Snook fishing is one of those on then off again things in the cooler months. If you can get live baits the bite is not bad. Greenbacks reported at the skyway but use a ¼ inch net because the small threadfins are also there. If the temps begin dropping as always look for deep water canals, rivers, creeks with deep muddy-bottoms. I’ve had some action on warmer sunny days using artificial lures like the Old Bayside Shadlyn and Shrimp. 

With February comes some of the best site fishing because the algae, starts dying and the water, clears up. The low tides and clear water make seeing redfish a dream. As always we’re catching reds in with the mullet schools using both live bait and artificial lures. No really good schools but plenty of singles around. Again mullet are the key to finding reds they really like staying with those mullet, so keep you eyes open. You’ll find reds around the flats near Weedon, Double Branch, Simmons Park, Ft. Desoto and Joe’s Island. Expect some good excitement when pitching soft plastics around the mangroves on high in coming tides or low tide flats.

Spotted Sea Trout (Check the regulations for the zone you’re fishing)
February will continue producing some good bites on incoming or outgoing tides, topwater action on a calm early morning flat can be great but live shrimp, artificial shrimp, Old BaySide Paradise Popper corks and any good grass flat will produce all the nice trout you want this month. The trout bites also been first-rate around the Pinellas Point and Ft. Desoto flats. Also check the flats around Weedon Island, 4th Street, Culbreath Bayou and Cypress Street in the north, and Simons Park, Joes Island, Tarpon Key for good trout action in the south. The Old Bayside Shrimp, Skeleton Shad and Shadlyn are producing good catches of trout everywhere but especially in the Clearwater area. I’ve run several trips there this past month with catches of 40 to 50 fish per trip. The bites so good we bend the barbs down and use Shakespeare’s X-Tool Dehooker  to release most fish.

The cooler temps didn’t happen as expected so the cobia bites been poor around the power plants.

Sheep head should continue around bridges, oyster bars and deep water docks. Try using barnacles, green mussels, shrimp or oysters. Scrape the pilings to get them going. Grouper in the bay are doing well and should continue. If trolling, watch your bottom machine and troll areas other than the channels. There are plenty of rock piles and ledges in the bay and sometimes they’re easier to fish than the channels.

GIVE ME A CALL & LET’S GO FISHINGIf you’re interested in fishing or learning to fish…Captain Woody’s been guiding and fishing Florida waters for over 50 year’s providing single boat charters for up to 4 anglers or multiple boats for large group events. And the results are always the same “Memorable Fishing Adventures with Tampa’s Top Guide”.

 For more information or to book a trip, visit his website at WWW.CAPTAINWOODYGORE.COM.

You can also reach me on my cell at 813-477-3814, in my office at: 813-982-2034, or send an email to WGORE@IX.NETCOM.COM