Tampa Bay’s Fishing Report January 2020

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By Captain Woody Gore

January means low tides, low humidity, pleasant days, and decent fishing. Greenbacks begin getting scarce, but shrimp always catches fish. However, winter is still an excellent time to experiment with artificial lures. So, as winter moves in try your hand tossing a few artificial lures around a Tampa Bay broken bottom grass flat and learn how you will always have something in the tackle box to catch fish with even when live bait is not available.

Snook – Canals, rivers, and creeks, especially those with structure receiving heat from the sun. On bright sunny days, check broken-bottom grass flats with large sandy potholes because they are the ticket for snook. As the water cools snook, tend to migrate to these areas for protection from colder waters. You often find them sunning themselves in shallow sandy areas. Do not forget the bridges, pilings, and the deepwater docks along the Hillsborough, Alafia, Little Manatee, and Manatee River. They are decent places to start if you are looking for some larger linesiders. Try finger mullet, small ladyfish, pins, and jumbo shrimp; do not forget topwater lures early in the morning or jigs and soft plastics as the sun gets up.

Redfish – January is excellent fishing for redfish. You often find schools of reds cruising around the flats near Weedon Island, Double Branch, Port Manatee Old Ferry Dock Flats, and Joe’s Island. Often larger fish over thirty inches work the outer edges and channels on low water. Serious redfish anglers discovered redfish love hanging with mullet because as mullet feed on tiny sea plants and sea lettuce, they stir up food for the redfish.  Learning to distinguish the difference between the wake of schooling mullet and redfish is something you need to learn. So watching for any change in water movement, this is a sure sign. Redfish wakes are usually higher than mullet. You can expect and enjoy some excitement by pitching soft plastics around the mangrove tree lines you never know when a large snook might strike. If you like wading, the low winter tides associated with winter offer excellent fishing for tailing redfish and others. As you amble along slowly, be sure to shuffle your feet because we get plenty of stingrays this time of year.

Spotted Sea Trout – Drifting the Tampa Bay grass flats and tossing soft plastic curly tail artificial lures also produces plenty of fun. Look to potholes to hold the larger spotted sea trout. Check the grass flats around Weedon Island, Culbreath Bayou, Pinellas Point, Joe Island, Tarpon Key, and Fort Desoto for decent trout action.

Cobia – Cobia shouldstart showing up with the cooler water temperatures, so watch the hot water runoffs at local power plants. Jumbo shrimp, small crabs, or pinfish work. If you are interested in artificial lures, try a large worm bait about 8 to 10 inches rigged on a Jighead. Cobia cannot resist anything resembling an eel. 

Sheepshead/Snappers – You can find sheepshead and mangrove snapper around the many fish attractors and rock piles located throughout Tampa Bay. Also, check out the bridges and deep water docks of residential canals. Try using shrimp, fiddler or small rock crabs, green mussels, or oysters. Scrape the pilings to get them going.

Website www.captainwoodygore.com Email fishing@captainwoodygore.com

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