Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a happy Holiday Season and I hope the New Year brings tight lines and smiling faces. December didn’t start out the way we would all like. With colder than normal temperatures, it made fishing very challenging. Let’s all hope that Mother Nature gives us a break from the cold for the New Year. January can be a tough bite. Getting an early start is not necessary. Starting in the afternoon gives the sun time to heat the flats up. So get your beauty rest and enjoy.
Trout will be the headline for fishing Tampa Bay this month. If you are looking to take some fish home or just have some catch and release fun, January can be productive if the weather cooperates. Season is set to open in our region this month with a limit of 4 per angler, 15”-20” with one allowed over 20”. Try grass flats from Joe Island to Simmons Park. As the grass flats warm up, the bigger trout will move shallower. A live shrimp under a cork will be hard for a trout to turn down. I use 18” of 25lb Berkley fluorocarbon leader with a #1 Daiichi circle hook under a cork. Trout are not picky when it comes to artificial baits, so now is the time to pull out the tackle bag and experiment. I like soft plastics like Berkley Gulp! shrimp or D.O.A.Cal jerk baits. I rig them weedless with a Daiichi 5/0 Butt Dragger weighted hook. Experiment and find out what works best for you.
The sheepshead bite should be good this month and continue for the next couple of months. They are preparing for their annual spawn and will be willing to eat. Rock piles, reefs, ledges, and docks should hold fish. Try some of the artificial reefs while fishing the Tampa Bay region like Bahia Beach or the Port Manatee reef. Shrimp are my bait of choice. I like to use jig head heavy enough to get the bait down. There is a minimum length of 12” and a bag limit of 15 but only keep what you are going to eat and save the rest to catch another day.
The power plant in Apollo Beach has plenty to offer this time of year. Snook, redfish, trout, cobia, sharks, permit, pompano, jacks and the list goes on. The power plant discharges warm water which stays around 75 degrees. This area attracts many different species of fish, but it also attracts the human species. It can get crowded on the beach so remember to be courteous of others. Also be on the lookout for manatees. They will be using the waters to stay warm.
Best of the Rest
January has plenty of negative low tides, so it is a great month to scout new areas. Finding new cuts, troughs, holes, and oyster bars during low tide will be great areas to try when the tide is high. Be on the lookout for silver trout. We should see some fish in our region around the Alafia River and down town. Flounder, usually an afterthought, should be willing to take a shrimp or a soft plastic dragged on hard or sandy bottom. To a happy and health New Year!
To book a Tampa fishing charter with Tampa fishing guide Capt. Will Shook, call 813-732-5971.