Monday, December 18, 2017
Outdoors

Captains Corner: Cold front may bring changes

The cold helps: This year has been warmer than any year I can remember in my 40 years of fishing the bay area. But it might be a good thing we had this cold front come through this past weekend. One of the main target species for a lot of area anglers in February is sheepshead. This is the time of year when the big females come into the bay and spawn. The moon phase has a lot to do with this, but we have not been catching near as many big sheepshead as we normally do at this time. Hopefully the front will move some of the sows in and our catches will improve. We have had a good sheepshead bite lately but most of the fish have been under legal size (12 inches). That's not as bad as it sounds when you consider we get 30 to 40 fish a day when fishing for them.

Trout: Another species that has been cooperative is sea trout. Hopefully this change in conditions will not affect their bite. Like the sheepshead, we have been catching more under-slot fish than keepers (15 to 20 inches) but have had good success catching enough to take home for a fish fry. The fish we have caught have been in the upper slot. Most of them have ranged from 18 to 22 inches. It's as if all the 15- to 18-inch fish are somewhere else or not hungry.

Redfish: The redfish bite was good this past week, but once again, size was an issue. Most fish were under the legal limit (18 to 27 inches) with a few keepers mixed in.

Bait: My best results lately have come from shrimp instead of whitebait. There are plenty of sardines at the bridge, and I have had them in my well on recent trips, but they have not been productive. If your target is snook, you might get better results, but shrimp seems to be best for everything else right now.

Ric Liles fishes out of Tampa, Ruskin, Bradenton and the surrounding areas, and can be reached at (813) 601-2900, via email at [email protected], or at ReelSimpleFishing.com.

Comments

Captainís Corner: Go with live shrimp in deep water

Water temperatures are around 62 degrees throughout most of the bay, so bait has pushed off deep and, for the most part, been ineffective. The cooler water has the fish hunkered down and their metabolism has slowed. When this happens, the inshore fis...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Bottom fishing is good with dropping gulf water temperatures

The past few weeks have delivered lots of cold air, dropping water temperatures in the gulf. Thermometers are reading in the low 60s. This is going to change a few things closer to shore. Anglers will find an absence of kingfish on many of the spots ...
Published: 12/16/17

Captainís Corner: Look for that strong speckled trout bite on grass flats

The speckled trout bite has taken off nicely after the first good cold front last weekend. You will find a consistent bite along the grass flats from Apollo Beach down to Pinellas Point. The sweet spot seems to be 4-6 feet of water. If you can find s...
Published: 12/15/17

Captainís Corner: Drop in gulf water temperature means itís sea trout time

The gulf temperature has dropped significantly since our first real cold front last week. One day the water was in the mid 70s, then after the front, it fell to the low 60s. That caused speckled sea trout to become a reliable target. Redfish have bee...
Published: 12/14/17

Captainís Corner: Good time for shallow-water flats fishing

Shallow-water flats fishing can be very exciting this time of year. Trout and redfish are available in good numbers, and the opportunities to catch some gator trout have made recent trips very rewarding. Some of the largest trout have been in very sk...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Captainís Corner: Seek clear water for bottom fishing as temperatures plummet

The great weather, calm seas and exceptional fishing we experienced at the end of November and beginning of December came to a screeching halt with the cold front that came through. Surface water temperatures plummeted from an unseasonable 71 degrees...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Captainís Corner: Sheepshead action lively in cooler weather

Conditions after the cold front are cool and are going to be for a while. That doesnít mean you canít or shouldnít fish. Many anglers get stuck on snook, reds and trout and forget how fun it is to catch sheepshead. Many reefs are already holding good...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17

Captainís Corner: Fishing will return to normal, but when?

The severity of this cold front will determine the fishing forecast for the next several days. Bait that had been abundant inshore will scatter. Nearshore gulf waters will muddy, and water temperatures. at least temporarily. will plummet. How cold, h...
Published: 12/08/17
Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

I canít believe we are in the last month of the year. And while this is one of my favorite months to fish, it will be controlled by weather. As cold fronts become more frequent and harsh, planning your trips around them will make the biggest differen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Captainís Corner: Strong results for redfish, speckled trout

This is a great time for variety. Combined trips for speckled trout and redfish are achieving excellent results. With the correct approach, great catches of both species are a reality now. The best anglers use the lightest tackle. Light rods and reel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17