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Tampa Bay - Saltwater

Capt. Matt Ercoli
January 9, 2002
Tampa Bay - Saltwater Fishing Report

Well, we finally had a real cold snap move in. The day before yesterday and the day before that we saw low nighttime temps plummet into the mid-thirties. This has chilled the water considerably but sure hasn?t cooled the fishing a bit. This is what we have actually been waiting for. The fish are now settled into their winter-time patterns. A week and a half ago we were still in a transition phase, with some fish already feeling the urge to find warmer water and others not. The day before this cold snap I even saw a few snook trying to stay out on the shallow flats late in the afternoon. There is a lot more guess work when the temperature is teetering between not cold enough, but not quite warm enough. The water temp is in the low 60s now and that will send everything looking for those small pockets of warm water.

The snook fishing is holding strong and has actually picked up, they have really bunched up with this last cold snap. They are finicky, but with a little fineness they are no problem. We have had a few 20 fish days this past week. Most are small 20 to 23 inch fish but on 6 lb test they are a real challenge, especially when you hook that occasionally 8 or 9 pounder.

The redfish have really started to pick up as well, a few of the better days when the snook where really on the bite we managed 8 or 10 fish. Most are on the smaller size, 17 to 23 inches, but fun on that lite line. I think this week will be even better as we are expecting another cold snap. It really takes good cold water to bunch the reds up this time of year and we are finally getting there.

As for other fish, the big sheepshead have been moving in. Those 3 to 5 pounders have started biting. I haven?t been spending much time on them this past week because of the good snook fishing, but the few times I have tried them we managed a few nice ones.

Mixed in with the sheepshead are some nice black drum as well. Some up to 10 pounds, not real large for their standards but also a great fight on light tackle.

I have been catching quite a few trout mixed in with the reds, a few are keeper size up to 18 inches. That pretty much raps it up. If you are thinking about a spring fishing trip it?s time to make your plans, I?m starting to book up fast. February and March can be some of the fastest shallow water snook fishing of the year, last year at that time we broke a 100 snook day on live bait and had several days where we boated over 20 on the fly. Also don?t forget that March can be some superb tarpon fishing. Last March we manage one fish to the boat that approached 200pounds.

Well that?s all for this week, I hope you have enjoyed my report. If you?re interest in a fun day on the water give me a call. If you?re heading out on your own good luck, slow down your presentation, keep it small and they?ll bite.

Capt. Matt Ercoli

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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.

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