While good fishing days remain few and far between, the optimistic angler might just get lucky and find some hungry fish on one of those seemingly rare in between cold front days. With the jet stream firmly entrenched just to our north and an arctic vortex creating extreme cold conditions that we haven’t seen since 2010, you have to believe that with a little luck this current trend is a weather anomaly that could easily change over the next couple of weeks.
Inshore, water temperatures plummeted to 52 degrees late last week. When it gets that cold you really need to slow down or even stop your presentation. Working channel edges with scented soft-plastics can bring steady action from schools of hungry ladyfish. Turning those fresh caught ladyfish into cut bait for redfish and the occasional gator trout can turn an otherwise tough day into a quality fish day.
Finding a lee-side shoreline can be tough on a north wind, but they do exist. Targeting the low mid-afternoon tide is your best bet, the water has warmed a bit and the fish are holding over the outer edges of the flats that are laden with large stretches of sand that intertwine with sparse grass patches. Fish seem to feed well in this scenario and it may only last for a couple of hours. Fanning out multiple rods with medium sized chunks of ladyfish will allow you to work a large area.
Near shore, light tackle bottom fishing slowed down a bit but was still good this past weekend despite cold water temperatures. Calm conditions made for easy runs out a couple of miles for mixed bag action for grunts, sheepshead, and hogfish. Targeting hard bottom in 20 to 40 feet of water with live shrimp on a knocker rig with a 1-ounce sinker is a great way to put some fish in the cooler.
Seatrout as well as silver trout can be found just off area beaches right now. Anglers fishing Redington pier have been catching both species consistently for a couple of weeks now. Fishing at night with glow colored soft plastic jigs will produce good numbers of adult seatrout. The daytime action consists primarily of silver trout, which can be caught on brightly colored soft plastics.
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To get a fish photo in the paper, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to editorial@TBNweekly.com or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.