Winter fishing in Tampa Bay can be tricky when the water is cold. Fickle fish and drastic weather changes can make consistent catches difficult. With patience and versatility, good numbers can still be caught. Wind abatement can be resolved by using "fishing the docks." Yes, it's tedious, but it can be productive. A live shrimp cast to or preferably underneath the structure can yield a variety of species. Winter fishing is tough in general. Don't take it personally if you do not catch as much as you would like. Speckled trout remain cooperative despite the cold. The mouths of residential canals, deep potholes on the flats, or dropoffs next to grass flats are all good places to score cool-water specks. Black sea bass are a wonderful fish to have for dinner and are often overlooked. Granted, they're not the largest fish in the bay, but they're scrappy fighters and delicious on the dinner plate. They like to hang on the edges of shipping channels or any other area with hard bottom or structure. They're aggressive and will take anything from a jig, cut bait or especially live shrimp. They're relatively easy to catch and are an option throughout the winter. Service shops are quiet now, so it's an ideal time to have equipment checked and to do seasonal maintenance.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa and can be reached at (813) 310-6531, firstname.lastname@example.org and fishontampabay.com/captains.aspx.