We are at the end of another great year of fishing. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! December was a warmer month than normal and the bite in our region showed it. The redfish, snook, and trout bite has been outstanding. If January stays warm, the bite should continue to be hot. If temperatures cool to normal, it’s time to switch to winter tactics and species.
With the new rules from the FWC, the trout fishery will remain open all year. A bag limit of 4 fish and a slot of 15”-20” remains the same in our region. Trout are not as affected by water temps as other species, so look for the bite to be consistent whether the temperatures become cool or stay warm. Live shrimp or artificial baits will work great. I prefer a D.O.A CAL ¼ ounce chartreuse jig head with a pearl shad tail. Areas around the Kitchen, residential canals around Apollo Beach, and Joe Island should hold plenty of trout.
A species almost forgotten by me has made its way back into my heart. It seems like the flounder bite continues to get better each year and with a lax bag limit (10 per day, 12” minimum), they are a great species to target this time of year for dinner. I prefer to target flounder inshore. I look for grass flats with plenty of potholes and work each pothole. I prefer a Gulp! Shrimp rigged weedless with a 1/8 weighted Daichii Butt Dragger. The key is to work as many potholes as you can. Other areas with hard bottoms or sandy patches will hold flounder as well.
You will see this section in the next couple of forecasts. I will update it with what’s biting. The TECO power plant in our region has plenty to offer this time of year. The hot water runoff from the power plant keeps the waters in the area around 75 degrees. The warm temperatures attract many different species…Snook, redfish, trout, pompano, permit, cobia, sharks, and the list goes on. It can also get crowded with beach fishermen. Just bring along some common sense and be courteous of others. Also, the manatees will use this area to survive the winter, so be on the lookout and follow all the signs for slow zones.
Best of the Rest
If the weather stays warmer than normal, look for the snook fishing to stay hot. The key is white bait. If you can get live scaled sardines (white bait/green backs) you will catch snook. The redfish bite has been consistent and should continue through January. Work areas around the rivers (Alafia, Palm, and Little Manatee River). Live shrimp will work best. Sheepshead will start to make a strong showing. Rocks piles, bridge pilings, and docks are a good place to start.