Wintertime Fishing is Here!

Angel caught his first snook on a live shrimp.

El Nino has had a major impact on our weather patterns lately, and I don’t expect it to change anytime soon. The worst part is that it seems to rain mostly on the weekends. This El Nino weather system also causes a huge fluctuation in temperatures. We’ve been getting two to three days of a cold front out of the north and El Nino pushes right back with the same out of the south.

What does this have to do with fishing, everything!

First off, catching baitfish can be difficult to nearly impossible. Cold water temperatures push baitfish into deeper water and around structure, like bridge pilings and range markers. Even on a relatively clam day catching baitfish in the winter can be challenging, add 15-20 knot winds and fuhgeddaboudit. I’ve been stopping at my local bait shop and buying medium-size shrimp lately just in case I can’t catch any baitfish before my charter. So far, that’s only happened once, but fortunately we caught plenty of fish anyway using only shrimp. Everything in Tampa Bay will eat a shrimp. That’s why it’s called the “Sara Lee” of baits.

Sheepshead especially like shrimp and they are very active right now. Most anglers think of sheepshead as living only around dock and bridge pilings, but they also hang out in deep sandy pot poles and around drop offs along mangroves. The latter are the two main areas that I prefer to pursue them. Fishing for sheepshead in the back bays has its advantages. Not only does it give you a better opportunity at catching other species of fish, but it can also give you shelter from the wind.

Just like chumming with baitfish activates fish, so does chumming with shrimp. That’s why at the end of the day, I never throw out my leftover live shrimp. I always bag and freeze it for my next charter. The next day when I’m running a charter and I arrive at my first fishing spot, I pull out a bag and start chumming the area with pieces of shrimp. Doing so draws in redfish. seatrout, ladyfish, jack crevalle and occasionally snook.

One thing that I always tell people is winter fishing can be very inconsistent and rewarding at the same time. No two days are ever the same, but if you keep an open mind and not be hell bent on catching only big fish, you can have a good outing.

Afishionado, “Always an Adventure.”

If you enjoyed reading my fishing report, you should check out my most recent post. Please like my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.