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 firstname.lastname@example.org.