Happy New Year January 2013
Fishing forecast for January will find us dodging cold fronts in the Tampa Bay fishing area. Even with temperatures on the cold side, there will be nice sunny days that warm the waters on the inshore flats of Clearwater and Dunedin.
This will be the time to get out and search your favorite trout and redfish areas. The optimal condition for catching redfish and trout would be to have a high tide in the afternoon at the warmest part of the day. As the water moves up on the sun baked flats, it could be 3 to 5 degrees warmer. The fish will be more active in this warmer water and catching a gator trout or an oversized redfish, should be a lot easier.
Trout and redfish will be the targets in these cold water conditions. The water temperature in the Tampa Bay fishing area will be consistently below 65, and most of the time around 60. Clearwater and Dunedin will hold some of the biggest gator trout on the west coast of Florida.
For trout, start drifting grass and sand areas in two to four feet of water inside the passes of Clearwater and Dunedin. When searching the warmer grass flat areas, try casting some artificials with a 1/8 or 1/4 ounce lead head w/plastic tails. Bounce them along the bottom and through the sand holes. With this method, you can cover a lot of ground drifting and casting until fish are found. Remember to bounce your jig along the bottom very slowly. The fish are very lethargic and will not move far for a meal. Some of the biggest 24+ inch trout will be caught using this method. I like my plastic tail jigs to have a white belly and either root beer, dark green or new penny type color.
Trout Regulations for our region:
January 2013. Min size 15", Max 20". Harvest 4 per person per day. Only 1 of the 4 can be over 20 inches. My suggestion, keep only the fish that will be eaten fresh. I do not freeze trout.
Redfish may be found back in the mangrove cuts near oyster beds, or around docks on the east side of Clearwater and Dunedin bays. You will be doing more leg work to find the reds but once found there should be others. Always toss a free line live shrimp under the docks you are checking. You may be surprised.
For the Basic Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations for Florida Waters, go to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation web site here;
They will have all of the regulations and size limits for salt water fish.
Don't let the cold fishing conditions give you cabin fever. Pick the good days, put on your sweats and jackets and get out there and do some winter fishing.
Booking winter charters now.
Capt. Gary Burch