A week that saw no significant cold fronts has allowed for water temperatures to moderate a bit. Last week we saw temperatures drop nearly 10 degrees which slowed the bite down dramatically.
With the inshore waters now hanging around the upper 60s, fishing should remain good until we get another big front.
Cooler water temperatures have helped to funnel schools of sea trout into their seasonal wintertime holding spots. Spoil islands and drop-offs are places to look; many times the best pots that consistently attract schools of large trout all have hard shell bottom. Probing likely-looking spots with soft plastic jigs bounced along the bottom will help you understand where the fish hold up on a certain tide. This year is the first year sea trout are open year-round. The regulations remain the same; four fish per person per day with a slot limit of 15- to 20-inches – one of your fish can be greater than 20 inches.
Typically, catching a pompano would be a bonus catch or maybe even considered a fluke while trout fishing. However, recently we’ve almost come to expect it.
Those same shell bottom shoals that the big sea trout prefer make for great pompano spots as well. These tasty speedsters will definitely eat a free-lined shrimp, but we’ve been catching far more on the jigs. Bouncing the jig right on the bottom will kick up puffs of sand that drive the pompano crazy.
Offshore, kingfish and Spanish mackerel have made a resurgence into our area; schoolie sized kings can be targeted around offshore reefs in 40- to 50-feet of water. Trolling No. 2 and No. 3 sized planers with silver or gold Kingspoon 25 feet behind will let you cover the ground necessary to find the fish.
Until next week – get bent!
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at capt.tyson@hotmail. com. To get a fish photo in the paper, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to editorial@TBNwe ekly.com or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.