Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Outdoors

East Bay Fishing Report for Jan. 3

What's hot: January's arrival means more cold fronts moving in every few weeks to heat up the fishing. While fishing in the winter has its good days and its bad, winter is still one of the best times of year to fish in the Tampa Bay area. All you need is a bag of your favorite soft plastics and jig heads or some live shrimp and you will be on the way to catching good fish. One of the most important reasons I like to fish in the winter is you can take kids out and catch a lot of fish.

Flat-out good: The most popular fishing in the wintertime in Tampa Bay is fishing the grass flats for trout in 3 to 6 feet of water. This is the time when we catch a lot of the bigger trout, 20 inches or larger. Plus, it's not uncommon to get some big gator trout. The most productive method of fishing the grass flats is fishing shrimp under a popping cork or throwing soft plastics. This can be the most exciting way to fish, but it is also a very effective way to fish. Whether you want to throw jigs or use live shrimp, you're going to catch fish.

In the canals: Another way I like to fish is in the residential canals and around the docks in our area. The water in the canals is up to 5 degrees warmer due to the mud bottom. Large boats tied up to the docks all generate heat, which will attract all kinds of fish, including sheepshead, redfish, trout and snook.

Tip: Look for water just a few degrees warmer and the fish will most likely be in that area. I bring a pool thermometer on the boat with 50 feet of line so I can find the warmest water to fish.

Capt. Jim Lemke charters out of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater and can be reached at (813) 917-4989 or [email protected]

Comments

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

Captainís Corner: Take advantage of abundant gag grouper before season ends

Gag grouper fishing and spearing is hot. The season for these grouper in the Gulf of Mexico is winding down, with a slated closure at the end of this month. The cooler water has the gags moving closer, and they are happy when the bottom temperatures ...
Published: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: Bait schools near shore drawing kings, mackerel, bonito

Nearshore fishing is still going strong in north Pinellas. Bait schools are roaming just a couple of miles offshore, attracting kingfish, Spanish mackerel and bonito. The beaches are still holding sardines for cast netting at sunrise. I like to have ...
Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: This is the month to target gag grouper

With our current regulations in the Gulf, this is the best month to target gag grouper. Although the gag grouper season opens in June they are hard to come by for most months unless anglers travel to depths of 240 feet or more. With each passing cold...
Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/04/17

Captainís Corner: Speckled sea trout can be easily caught on artificial lures

Speckled sea trout are one of the most reliable targets this time of year. Grass flats are usually empty because of extreme low tides. That causes higher concentrations of fish on the edges and in the deeper grass flats. No live bait is needed. A red...
Published: 12/01/17

Captainís Corner: Cooler weather lures decent gag grouper

Mild temperatures have allowed anglers to get out and explore many areas. Cooler weather has lured decent gag grouper. We expected them to arrive in the past month, and they havenít disappointed. Numerous rocks in 20- to 120-foot depths seem to be ho...
Published: 11/30/17

Captainís Corner: Donít have to go far offshore for grouper

When most anglers think of bottom fishing for grouper, they usually think that means taking a long run offshore. During late November and early December, grouper migrate close to shore, so a long run might not be necessary. There are times we target ...
Published: 11/28/17
Updated: 11/29/17