What's hot: Residential canals offer safe harbor conditions that are usually out of the wind. This time of year, when the water temperatures drop into the low 60s, many species seek relief in the canal systems that surround Tampa Bay. These areas typically do not experience a great deal of water exchange and thus tend to be a few degrees warmer. The seawalls radiate heat into the water and the canals usually have dark bottoms and murky water and thus tend to hold a little more heat, attracting many species.
Tips: Wind and cold air can make fishing challenging and unpleasant. Preparing for the elements and utilizing available options can make for more comfortable and productive fishing. Even on sunny days you can still freeze on the water. Whether fishing from the shore, a pier or in a boat, a jacket is always a good call, even if you don't wear it. Yes, it might seem warm as you go outside to pick up the newspaper, but add a stout breeze off the cold water and it is a different story.
Tactics: Live shrimp are great bait when things are chilly. They are slow and an easy target. Fish are lethargic and will not exert much effort to feed. Live shrimp pitched under docks can be an effective technique this time of year. A soft plastic jig, tipped with a small piece of shrimp, is a productive alternative.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, snookfish.com or (813) 310-6531.