2010 ushered in extremely cold temperatures to the Tampa Bay region. The next several nights will see low temperatures in the upper 30's! By Thursday we are back to more moderate weather and 70 by the weekend. Itís a great time to get your gear ready for spring.
Start with rods and reels, breakdowns with either can result in the loss of a trophy fish. Rods are simple to maintain, ensure you rinse them thoroughly with fresh water after every use. Guides are where you could have hidden damage, take a cotton ball and rub it along each guide. If it catches at anyone point replace the guide. Local tackle shops should be able to help you. Reels besides needing to get a freshwater rinse after each use require more basic maintenance. Fresh line is a must, replace it often. Spinning reels not filled fully do not cast as far, staying off the fish and making long cats are imperative for inshore and flats fishing on Tampa Bay. If you have not tried braided lines make 2010 the year you change. Braid is half the diameter of mono and casts much further. Itís also very sensitive; Captain Steven uses only braided lines at On The Mark Charters. I recommend every year you take apart your reels for a complete cleaning, inspection and oiling. Again your local tackle shops are a great source for reel repairs and maintenance if you are not mechanically inclined.
Pull out your tackle bag and do a complete inspection. Rusted, old worn out items need to be tossed out. Organize everything and take inventory, restock the basics and be sure to check out whatís new for 2010 at your local tackle shop. If you have not implemented circle hooks into your tackle bag give them a try.
Make sure you are in the know regarding any new rules and regulations. Check out www.myfwc.com for the latest. The cold weather can have harmful effects on our snook population check out the latest at www.snookfoundation.org .
Good news after 9 days below 60 degrees a warm-up is at hand with highs near 70 and lows in the 60ís in St. Petersburg. I will be anxious to see what if anything has changed over the last 5 days, feels odd not being on the water in that many days. My expectation is for an excellent sheepshead bite along with trout eager to attack live and artificial baits. Early mornings this week will usher in low negative tides. Look for redfish in deep potholes adjacent to the flats. Grouper trolling the ship channel should be in high gear.