Weatherization. A cold front is predicted to push its way into Tampa just in time to ruin our perfect weather. If you are in need of a fishing fix, here are a few things you can do to improve your odds and still wet a line. The wind will most likely be a key player in whether or not you can make it out safely, but the many residential canals, feeder creeks and rivers that all are part of the Tampa Bay estuary offer a reprieve from the wind and also gives the fish a place to soak up the warming sun. Fishing in the canals and rivers, the many docks dotting the shore lines are gold mines for redfish, sheepshead and the occasional snook.
Bait. This time of year a live shrimp offered on an eighth-ounce jig head is a rig to offer first. If the dock has sheepshead, switch to a No. 1 circle hook with a split shot about 5 inches above the hook. Fishing baits up next to the pilings will put the bait in the strike zone. The key here is to pitch the bait past the piling, leave the bail open and let it sink back to the piling before closing the bail.
Rivers and creeks. The rivers and feeder creeks are a great place to fish and hide from the wind as well. Just like fishing on the flats, look for the same types of structure, oyster bars, deeper holes, ledges and again, docks. Live shrimp fished with a jig head heavy enough to get it to the bottom and let it bump along the oysters, this technique works well in areas of stronger tidal movement, often the bite will come as the jig head hangs a rock or oyster shell. Many rivers, creeks and canals have ramps very close and at times the boat never even has to go over an idle.
Tim Whitfield can be reached at (813) 774-0889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.