Well, it was inevitable that we would eventually get some cooler weather and with the onset of January, the weather has finally caught up with us. The hot fishing and hot weather we were experiencing through December has cooled off and our fishing has slowed. Warm one week, cool the next has the fish a little confused and on kind of an odd pattern for this time of year.
I have been catching Snook along the south shore of Tampa Bay from the Skyway to Simmons Park using live whitebait, although I think with the cooler temperatures, shrimp will be the bait of choice in the upcoming weeks. When the water cools down, fish get lethargic. Imagine you are floating around in cold water, what happens to your body? You get slow, its hard to move, and you lack energy. Fish are the same way. With our cooling waters, look for the Snook bite to slow down. The fish will be moving to warm water areas such as dark bottom backcountry areas, local residential canals, and our local rivers. If you are targeting Snook, focus your fishing on some of these areas and you should continue to have some decent catches.
Seatrout have come back into season around the bay area and the fish are making a pretty good showing. A couple years ago, Trout fishing was almost wiped out due to the red-tide that decimated out area, but the Trout have rebounded and the fishing is regaining its prowess. Look for Trout on all our local grass flats where water is moving and there is speckled bottom.(grass and sand mixed) I have been catching my Trout on everything from DOA shrimp under a popping cork, to live whitebait. Remember if you are not going to keep the Trout, try to handle them as little as possible and put them back carefully so they can keep adding to our stocks.
Lastly, I have been targeting Mangrove Snapper around deeper structure in the Bay. Cut whitebait, or shrimp has been producing well during new and full moon periods. Moving water is key to this type of fishing, so find water movement, and you should find some happy fish. I like using as light a leader as possible when targeting Snapper, so I use 20lb. fluorocarbon tied with a loop-knot to a No.1 or 2 circle hook, and a small split shot.
All in all fish are still there to be had so put in your time and you can have some decent catches. Wintertime fishing is here, so letís bide our time and July will be here before we know it.