Finally, cooler weather has arrived. In my 49 years of living and fishing in Florida, this has been the most unusual fall and early winter in memory. Last week people were catching snook on the beaches of Boca Grande, unheard of for most folks. With the latest front passing, snook should start moving into backwaters or tributaries of Tampa Bay. Also, live bait becomes difficult to obtain when it gets cold. A week or so ago, scaled sardines were so thick around the Skyway, one or two tosses of the bait net would blacken a large livewell. Reds are still cruising the flats but are somewhat hard to find as there seems to be less mullet than normal. They are a great indicator for redfish. Even commercial mullet fishermen are fussing about the quantities of this year's harvest. Live shrimp and soft plastic jigs will be more effective as the water cools. Shrimp pitched under residential docks can be deadly on cool days. When it gets really cold, jigs fished slowly will entice groups of trout. Specks will gather into potholes on the edges of grass flats and the mouths of residential canals. A viable option is the Apollo Beach power plant. Cobia will hang around in that area.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at (813) 310-6531, firstname.lastname@example.org and fishontampabay.com/captains.aspx.