Hopefully last week's cold snap was the last gasp of winter. Anglers, or any outdoor enthusiast for that matter, have been climbing the walls in anticipation of warmer weather. Although the wind has been challenging, fishing is on the upswing in Tampa Bay.
Fishermen fighting "cabin fever" can find the remedy with a little persistence and the right bait. Live shrimp are the bait of choice for consistency, especially during winter. Just about anything that swims will nail a shrimp. Cold water slows the metabolic rate of fish, thus lessening their need to feed. To conserve energy, they will not exert much effort to eat. Therefore, shrimp is an ideal meal. It is an easy and desirable target.
Residential canals are still holding fair numbers of fish. This scenario will become less productive as water temperatures increase. If fishing around the docks, pitch the slightly weighted shrimp as close to (preferably under) the dock as possible. The strikes are often very subtle. Set the hook upon the first indication of a strike. If you wait for the fish to take it, it likely already has.
Redfish are milling around on the flats at high tide. Look for mullet schools or any surface activity to locate groups of reds. The water is exceptionally clear now and the fish can see you as well as you can see them. Try to limit unnecessary motion when sight fishing or just simply looking for fish.
Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 310-6531 , e-mail dwalker12tampabay.rr.com or visit www.snookfish.com.