FISHING IN THE WINTER
Winter greetings to our friends, new anglers and all those who are joining us for the latest edition of the Tampa Bay Fishing Report. We are currently experiencing winter fishing conditions, a season very different from the balmy spring and summer.
Truthfully, winter is the most difficult of all Tampa Bay fishing seasons, as we are angling for tropical fish in cold water. With the water temperatures dropping below 70 degrees, the fish tend to be a bit lethargic. So how do we fish successfully in these conditions? We need to slow down and be more patient than we would be when fishing warmer waters. We find this to be very therapeutic as well as productive. Because Tampa Bay is so alive and thrives with great sportfishing, our expectations are usually more fast-action oriented. The winter time gives us the opportunity to catch our breath and let our patience be rewarded.
The most important thing that one can incorporate into their winter fishing program is the targeting of winter-friendly species. These would include sheepshead, Key West snapper (grunts), bonnethead sharks, and spotted or speckled sea trout. All of these species feed on live shrimp, so you can keep your bait the same for each of them. One aspect of fishing that remains consistent from warm to cold weather species is that the tackle does not change. We still target these fish with light tackle rods and reels, using a 10-to-15-pound line and 20-to-25-pound leader, along with number one circle or J hooks. We fish both under a cork and on the bottom with a number one split shot weight. Whichever gets the most action, we convert. Most of the time we find the split shot weight to be more effective because the fish are hunkered down on the bottom of the water seeking warmth.
But before you know it, the time will come to move to our pre-spring fishing game plan. It would serve one well to practice throwing the cast net for live bait. If that’s just not your thing, live bait is always available at your local bait shops. As we transition out of winter and into spring, the fishing will become the best and easiest it will be all year. The fish are hungry, feeding and moving after their winter migration period has ended. Until our next fishing report — in which we will be investigating spring fishing in greater detail. Please layer up and dress appropriately for cold fronts, which bring three elements: cold, wind and light rain. But none of these are so harsh that anglers should not get out and enjoy the beauty and wonder of winter fishing in Tampa Bay!
Assuring you are at the best of attention at all times. To book your next adventure, call our Fishing Charters Hotline, or to learn more, visit us online.
TAMPA FISHING CHARTERS®, INC. | 813-245-4738 | TAMPAFISHINGCHARTERS.COM
“Give them a ﬁsh, they eat for a day. Teach them to ﬁsh, they eat for a lifetime.”
— Fisherman’s Proverb