Capt. George Hastick's 12-19-10 Fishing Report for Tampa Bay
During the winter months with the colder water temperatures look for fish to move into more tolerable areas such as deeper holes on the flats, protected areas from the wind, areas adjacent to power plant outflows,deeper canals, creeks and rivers and anywhere that the water will stay just slightly warmer through the night. On the warmer days in between the fronts some fish will move up onto a darker grass flat to warm up from the sun heating the shallow flat. On the warmer days look for a flat that is next to a deeper body of water such as a channel or canal. If you are fishing a canal start on the west side of the canal because the western side will receive more sunlight in the morning which will heat the seawall and water slightly more than the shaded side.
Some of the species to target right now are sheepshead, redfish, trout and flounder. All of these species can be caught on live shrimp (or shrimp pieces) and artificial baits, but if your targeting sheepshead I would stay with shrimp, mussels, tube worms or fiddler crabs. You can catch them on artificial baits but it is not typical.
Redfish, trout and flounder will readily take a 1/4oz jig head rigged with a gulp shrimp in white or new penny or a MirrOlure Lil John in rootbeer, watermelon red glitter and glow colors. Both brands have a very strong fish scent attractant that will get bites without even moving the soft bait. Now add movement, the amount of area you can cover with these lures, the different presentations you can do and your success rate increases dramatically.
Redfish will hit many different presentations from a slow constant real, to hopping the jig across the bottom, to swimming the bait just off the bottom. I would start with a slower presentation keeping contact with the bottom and pausing every so often. Many times when you are jigging you will get the hit as the lure is sinking or just after it touches bottom so watch your line to see if it jumps and set the hook if it does.
Trout I like to just hop the lure across the bottom making sure that I am keeping contact with the bottom by doing 2-3 twitches of the rod tip and then letting it settle back down before twitching again. Other presentations work but this is what I am most fond of and it works for me.
Flounder will be laying on the bottom of a sand hole surrounded by grass if you are fishing the flats but can also be found in the sand near structure like bridge pilings and reefs like Treasure Island and Madeira beach reefs. Keep the bait dragging along the bottom for these fish. They will come off the bottom to chase a bait down but keeping contact with the sandy bottom will increase your chances. On the flats I like to use a 1/4 oz jig head and any of the previously mentioned soft plastics. Find larger sand holes that can accommodate multiple fish and make long casts to the far side of the sand hole. Now just slow reel letting the jig head drag through the sand. Wait for a hit or if you get snagged you might not be. If you feel snagged slowly pull up on the rod and if you feel the slightest of movement set the hook!! Remember flounder love to bury themselves in the sand to be able to ambush bait and for protection from predators. In the deeper water depending on depth and current use a heavy enough jig head to keep in contact with the bottom. Usually 3/8oz - 1oz should do it. If the current is to strong you can drift fish with the current and this will help the lure stay down longer.
Areas holding fish range from the mouth of Tampa Bay all the way north to up above Courtney Cambell. Some of these areas are the waters near the power plants( staying out of the security zones), Fort Desoto, Tierra Verde, Weedon Island, the Double Branch and Rocky Creek areas and many of the deep water canals along the way.
Capt. George Hastick fishes the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg Area.
If you would like any more information or would like to book a fishing trip.
Feel free to call or go to his website below.