We had our first influx of cold air this past week. It sent shock waves across the Tampa Bay Watershed, and that's not a bad thing. We have enjoyed another very extended fall again this year. All of a sudden we have become thrust into winter. What does this mean for the fish? It means the pressure on snook is off for a couple of months, giving them a reprieve and time to rest and prepare for next summer's spawn. It also means targeting some different species of fish and using some different styles and techniques — in other words, breaking up the monotony. A question I get a lot is, "What are we going to fish for?" That answer changes day to day and is heavily influenced by the predicted weather conditions and tides. If the weather is nice and the bay is calm, it can be a brisk run in the bay boat to any one of the many rock piles in Tampa Bay to target sheepshead. These guys are tricky, and it takes a while to get a feel for when to set the hook. They are tasty critters, and often they are invited home for dinner. If the weather is windy and cold and the tides bottom out in a negative way, I like running a skiff and fishing deep into the back country targeting redfish and trout, maybe a few snook and occasionally, when the stars align, juvenile tarpon that seldom eat.
Tim Whitfield can be reached at (813) 714-0889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.