Record heat has been with us since October. The normal fishing patterns for this time of year are way out of whack and are quite perplexing. Usually by now, snook are far into the backwaters and uncooperative. Quite the opposite is happening. They as well as redfish are still on the flats. Clear water has offered anglers sight-fishing opportunities. Seeing a fish, then presenting an accurate offering, is one of the coolest ways to land a catch. Seeing the fish grab the bait is a wonderful experience. Speckled trout and redfish are returning to the shallows and have been quite cooperative. On nice days, the best bite has been in the afternoon. Water temperatures are way above normal and have activated the usually lethargic fish. Ultra-light gear will make subtle strikes more likely to be detected. Using light equipment also increases the fun. Cold fronts will eventually come. With the cooler weather, breezy conditions are typical. If it is windy, residential canals can be a very productive spot to catch fish as well as offering a buffer from stout breezes. Live shrimp fished close to or under docks will do the trick. Downtown Tampa and the adjacent Hillsborough River have been holding cool water snook. Both areas offer relief from the wind as well. It is the time of year for seasonal maintenance. Whether outboards, or reels, service these items before the shops get slammed at the beginning of spring.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 310-6531 or visit fishontampabay.com/captains.aspx.