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Winter is Here

Capt. Stewart Ames
December 16, 2016
Tampa Bay - Saltwater Fishing Report

As fall heads towards winter, fishing becomes a weather controlled event. First, based on overall water temperatures, some fish arrive and others leave. Second, cold fronts dictate when fishing will be good or bad. November provided great near shore kingfishing until just about the end of the month. 15 to 20 lbs fish were abundant just 2 - 3 miles off the beach and were pretty much of a sure bet . What makes the northern Pinellas Region such a great area to fish is quick and easy access to both inshore an near shore fishing opportunities. Many days begin with a short run to the kingfish grounds where bonita and spinner sharks occassionally added to the excitement. On days offering high tides around noon, anglers could return inshore to take advantage of the redfish bite. As the month came to a close, winter seatrout began to arrive as well. With this being the case, most captains will now settle into their winter fishing pattern of targeting large seatrout and occassional redfish. One other species, the gag grouper, can also be targeted shallow at this time of year as keeper sized fish will move in until the real cold arrives but, as of the writing of this report, few keeper fish had been found inside of 30 feet.

Fishing shallow, pothole covered flats can be very productive locations to find concentrations of large winter seatrout. Drifting live bait across these areas is the genrally accepted approach to catching these fish. Live bait options would include "select" shrimp, pinfish and, if available, white bat. Whitebait is clearly the top choice but, as with other fish in the area, this bait does not like the cold and may dissappear for a month of two in the winter when water temps get too low. If current in the area is strong, baits are best fished in a free-lined style…no bobber, no weight, nothing. This is the most natural presentation. If current is not strong, and shrimp or pinfish are being used, a bobber can be a useful tool as both of these baits may seek the grass for protection. By setting the bobber height about six inches shorter than the depth, the bobber will keep your bait "grass free" and in the strike zone. Tide and weather are keys to determining good fishing days. As with much of the local fishing, strong tides generally make fishing better. Additionally, fishing in advance of the cold fronts is almost always very productive whereas fishing immediately after cold fronts typically promises a fairly fish free day. Good luck and good fishing.

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

Target Species:

Seatrout, Redfish

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Gone Fishing Charters offers inshore/near shore fishing charters for all ages & skill levels. Expect a clean boat, quality tackle and a professional environment. A pre trip discussion with your captain will inform you of the best, current fishing opportunities based on recent outings, tides and weather. He'll also address any concerns/ questions you have to insure that you have the most enjoyable experience. Species targeted include snook, redfish, seatrout, kingfish, snapper, grouper and others

Contact Info:

Gone Fishing Charters
P.O. Box 541
Crystal Beach, FL 34681
Phone: 727-421-5291
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