Winter officially began last weekend and according to the calendar we wonít see spring for three more months.
Now we all know it will probably warm up a bit before that, but in the meantime itís bound to get colder in the coming weeks.
Winter fishing success is more often based on timing than our other seasons. Cold fronts are more numerous and consequently good fishing days become further apart. There are, however, plenty of fish to be caught.
Inshore anglers can target such species as trout, bluefish and pompano in the deeper grass flats and channel edges to super shallow redfish that can often be found tailing around the schools of mullet as they work their way onto the flats. And donít forget about the great sheepshead fishing we have in this area.
This is also the time of year that local bait shops see a definite increase in shrimp sales. When the water gets cold, baitfish populations begin to thin out. Scaled sardines canít be found with regularity like a few weeks ago, making live shrimp the best choice for those wanting to fish with live bait. Free-lining a tail hooked shrimp with an up-current cast would be the preferred presentation, but the current and wind can often be too strong to allow your bait to reach the depth necessary to catch the trout, so a small split shot can be added to get the bait down.
When fishing shallower flats the use of a float will help to keep the bait up and out of the grass. Make sure that you use upcurrent casts. Trout, especially big trout, like the bait to be moving naturally with the tide.
For some anglers, fishing doesnít get good until the water temperature gets down to the low 60s. This is the time when residential dock fishing can be very good. Long dead end canals hold heat and the fish know that.
Finding a string of productive docks can yield redfish, black drum and sheepshead time and time again. Think of it as an inshore anglerís version of offshore grouper fishing. Trout season will open next week in our region and we should definitely have a good season.
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.