Fishing Around Tampa Bay (Feb. 8)
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 11:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 11:58 p.m.
1 | At Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, pompano and Spanish mackerel are new bites this week, along with flounder, sheepshead, whiting and trout, reports Kelly Dacey. Water temperature 62 at noon Thursday, down 4 degrees from last week.
2 | At Madeira Beach, tripletail up to 15 pounds on live shrimp around crab buoys after cold fronts sunning on surface in 20-25 feet, reports Capt. Dane Karcher (727-647-6919) of John's Pass. Karcher said tripletail particular about feeding on majors and minors of Solunar Tables, Sheepshead starting to swarm up to spawn on wrecks and reefs out to 8 miles, with flounder 14-15 inches up to 4-5 pounds on sandy edges, both on shrimp. Karcher also targeting hogfish with shrimp on rock piles. Party boats out of Hubbard's Marina tearing up amberjack 30-40 pounds on overnight trips to the Middle Grounds, which are 80-90 miles out in 120 feet, reports Capt. Dillon Hubbard (727-420-9485). Hubbard said AJs are "on fire,'' with limits every trip usually in just an hour. Hogfish and grunts on 5-hour trips. All groupers are out of season in the Gulf until April 1.
3 | At John's Pass, flats fishing is perking up with spring-like weather. Capt. Jessie Mayer reports a couple trout 5-7 pounds Wednesday in really shallow water along Intercoastal casting to potholes with artificals (D.O.A. CAL jerkbaits in clear with red/gold glitter on dark-colored jig-heads) while out with Capt. Brett Norris out of O'Neill's Marina. Mayer said there's sheepshead all over the flats, running with mullet. And they saw snook laying on channel edges, but left them alone.
4 | At Fort DeSoto Park, redfish numbers increasing on the flats, mostly in mid-slot or undersized, and where jumping mullet are noticed on artificials, shrimp or cut bait. Quality trout bite continues on flats, with gator trout sunning fairly shallow around open-water bars. Greenbacks are prime for bigger trout, but you have to go to the Skyway to net them until the water warms a few more degrees.
5 | Around the Sunshine Skyway and lower Tampa Bay, larger redfish started picking up on the flats this week, reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Lakeland (941-747-3856). Crawford said he caught one keeper redfish Tuesday along with some shorts, but his anglers boated more than a dozen all 25-30 inches Thursday on greenbacks down into Sarasota Bay. Bite for trout and catch-and-release snook better by the day this week with water temperature rising after last week's front. Water was 63 Thursday afternoon on the flats. Capt. Jason Lineberger reports solid action for redfish on gold spoons around Miguel Bay, with good flounder and trout in Joe's Bay.
6 | At Anna Maria, redfish are on the upswing in size and number in Sarasota Bay, Capt. Shawn Crawford said. His anglers have also picked up flounder, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and tripletail while targeting trout, redfish and snook. Offshore, there's plenty of gag and red grouper 10 miles out, but groupers are out of season until April 1.
7 | At St. Petersburg, good steady bite for redfish 22-24 inches around Weedon Island, reports Capt. Jason Lineberger. He said snook and trout are already on spring patterns on warming trends like this week. Nice-sized sheepshead in shipping channel around Port Manatee and at Gandy Bridge, Skyway, rock piles and channel edges on shrimp.
8 | In the north end of Tampa Bay, Capt. Jason Lineberger of Tampa (813-363-9474) is running to Saint Joseph Sound near Dunedin for a "fantastic'' trout bite. Sheepshead steady around Courtney Campbell and Howard Frankland.
- On the Space Coast, Capt. Keith Mixon of Lakeland (www.mixinworkwithplay.com) reports good action sight-casting for slot redfish and black drum up to 17 inches on flats near Titusville. Bite picks up as water warms up midday. Mixon is sight-casting live shrimp or scented jerkbaits — Bass Assassin's Electric Chicken 4-inch Sea Shad rigged on 1/4-ounce jig-head — near potholes in 3-4 feet. Several nice sheepshead, up to 15 inches, inshore and at Port Canaveral on live shrimp or fiddler crabs next to pilings, bridges or deep-water boat slips. A few tripletail along Canaveral buoy line and near floating structure like patches of sargassum on live shrimp during midday hours. If it's calm enough, you can sight-cast to tripletail up to 20 inches sunning near the surface.
- At Sebastian Inlet, divers doing better than fishermen just off the beaches, spearing cobia in 30 feet and tickling lobsters on the second reef, reports Doug Eisenger at Wabasso Bait and Tackle (772-589-8518). The tackle shop is closed, but will reopen in its new location in a couple of weeks. Forty-pound cobia common, just under rays. Water has been too dirty in the inlet because of high winds, but is clearing up. Eisenger went to Round Island to fish surf for pompano on sand fleas, finding bigger pomps 16-17 inches at start of bite then just barely keepers 11 1/2 inches. Eisenger wading along edges of Sebastian River near bridge and casting topwater for nice trout.
- At Fort Pierce, opening weekend for snook season on the Atlantic Coast produced decent numbers. Doug Eisenger drifted the inlet with croakers and landed three 33-inch snook, just above the slot limit. Eisenger said there were so many bluefish, it was hard to get a bait to the snook.
- At Key West, barracuda took center stage in the 2013 Cuda Bowl Tournament that ended Saturday. The 23 boats caught barracuda up to 46 1/2 inches on spin tackle and fly rods. Lance Gleason of Montana won with 15 releases and a total of 246.5 inches.
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