Tampa Bay Inshore Fishing is awesome this time of year. I fish Tampa Bay, as well as the area of the adjacent Gulf from St. Joseph Sound to Gulf Harbors. November and December generally produce nice catches of trout, redfish, and cobia. Trout are a particular focus, as they are great table fare right now. Live bait is always a great choice, but some clients also like to throw artificial baits. If I’m on my own, I like to toss a Berkley Gulp shrimp in 3″ pearl-white. It’s a can’t-miss bait for just about anything on the flats. Currently, water temperatures in the region are running between 70 and 75 degrees, which is perfect for most of our local game fish. In my opinion, trout are best to eat when the water is cool. Bigger trout are also more prevalent, if you know where to look. I can’t give all of my secrets away, but the areas circled in the image above are very good for trout and, at times, cobia. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of drifting across the grass flats and fishing in 4 to 6 feet of water. I use a 1/4 to 3/8-ounce jig head with a Gulp shrimp. It’s a simple but killer combo. The Gulp shrimp are tough and will last through several fish. Live bait can be free-lined or fished under a cork. The spoil islands throughout the north region are outstanding areas to search for bigger trout. I like to fish the rock piles for big trout. We’ve been able to limit out on big trout while sitting on some of these holes. Redfish can also be found in these areas, as well as the large oyster bar formations around the region. As the water really cools off, you’ll need to focus your efforts during the warmer parts of the day. Often, it is productive to fish in 2 to 3 feet of water late in the afternoon. Most fish will search out the warmth of the shallows in the afternoon. Right now, it’s not an issue. With a warmer-than-normal winter forecast, it may be no issue at all.
Tampa Bay Fishing should remain strong most of the winter. Spotted sea trout are probably the least-affected fish when it comes to cooler water temperatures. Slight changes in tactics may become necessary, but keep at it. Check back with Tampa Bay Inshore Charters for more tips and reports as we work our way through the Florida “winter”. Tight lines and stay safe out there. Give me a call and let’s book a trip.