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Tampa Bay - Saltwater

Capt. Matt Ercoli
December 30, 2000
Tampa Bay - Saltwater Fishing Report

Well I hope everyone had a nice Christmas and that Santa was good to you. Fishing has changed some since the last report, but we are still having some great outings despite the fluctuating weather. The water temperature is now in the low 60's, typically where it should be as we welcome in the New Year. Don't let the cool weather run you off though, Captain Shawn and I still offer some excellent fishing.

Our main objectives now are trout, redfish, sheepshead, grouper and a few snook. Trout season opens on January 1st so get your frying pan ready; we are putting lots of trout in the boat and some darn nice ones too. Quite a few of the trout are running over 20 inches.

Most of the red fish we are catching now are slot fish between 17 and 27 inches.

One type of fish, which we target when the water-cools, and which is underestimated for its sporting quality, is the sheepeshead. We had some really fun days this week catching those toothy critters. Most of the ones we are catching average between 3 and 5 pounds, and quite a few even larger. They fight hard and are very challenging to detect their subtle bite and they also eat quite well. If you are interested is some fillets you can sure load the boat with these guys right now. If you are interested in giving them a try your self, all you need is a small hook, little shrimp, some structure, and a fast strike because these guys will steal a shrimp faster than any fish that swims.

Now as far as snook fishing, this is definitely not the best time of year for them. My partner and I have still been able to locate some white bait and this makes for fair snook fishing. Most of the bait is caught in the canals and rivers which takes some extra effort, the rewards can still be some nice quality fish.

The near shore grouper fishing is now starting to come on fairly strong with quite a few of them running over the 22 inch size limit. We had a few grouper near 15 pounds last week. Trolling has been our most effective tactic for catching the larger grouper although live baiting them is more productive for catching numbers.

I continue waiting for a strong pompano run but there still seems to be only a few around, they didn't really come on strong till February last year. Cooling water temperatures should bring them in shortly but pompano can also be random from year to year.

So, I hope you have enjoyed my report. Don't let the cold weather scare you from the water, It's really quite refreshing, but then again I spend over 250 days a year in the hot sun all day long. I hope you have a wonderful New Year, be safe. Captain Matt.

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Offering half to full day flats fishing charters aboard his custom 24' Sheaffer flats/tower boat. Fishing the backwater flats from Tampa to Sarasota Bays, Capt. Matt Ercoli has the knowledge and personality to ensure that you have a great fishing experience. Providing both inshore flats fishing for tarpon, snook, redfish, trout and offshore fishing for permit, kingfish, bonita, grouper or shark. Capt. Matt accommodates both lite tackle and fly fishermen.

Contact Info:

Fly the Flats Fishing Charters
Phone: 800-521-2872
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