The fishing in my area has transitioned to full on wintertime mode here in Tampa bay and that means some of the best shallow water sight fishing of the year. Large schools of slot-sized and bull redfish, giant “gator”trout, and big snook concentrate into warmer protected area this time of year and despite the cooler temperatures, the fishing can be on fire! In the mix we will have tasty some nice flounder, and some scrappy bluefish/ladyfish. Also, right around the corner typically beginning in early-mid Feb is the spawning run of massive blackdrum (20-70lbs). These fish are huge and once located, the action can be constant.
On the flats, redfish and gator trout will dominate the scene for the ned few months. Both species pile into super shallow protected areas to escape the cooler deeper water. Its not uncommon to see literally hundreds of huge trout and reds packed into an area the size of a small apartment trying to soak up the sun and boost their metabolism. When these fish decide to feed, the action is fast and furious with nothing but quality gamefish. Right now through March is when we typically catch the largest trout of the year with some gators approaching the magical 30″ class. When booking a trip try and take the weather into account because your fishing success is greatly influenced by water temperature. The best days are typically 3-5 at least a day after a front after the weather stabilizes and begins to warm. The shallow water heats up faster than the channels and the fish absolutely stack in the warmest areas. The the water heats up with the afternoon sun, the fish can go on a feeding rampage and will hit anything from shrimp, pinfish, and sardines, to plugs, soft plastics, spoons, and even flies.
The cooler water temps have also pushed snook into protected backwater areas that have more warmer and more stable water temps. Areas like marinas with dark water, springs, and creeks/rivers can hold literally thousands of snook at a time. Its not good to mess with the fish during extreme cold but when we experience mild conditions, these fish can be caught on a wide array of plugs. If your fishing around structure like docks or pilings make sure to bring the heavy tackle because some of these snook will push the 40″ mark and will run right for it to break you off.
If you like sight fishing big fish this is the time of year for you. Don’t miss out on the action. Tight lines.
Captain Tyler Kapela.