Clearwater and Tampa Bay Area Winter Fishing Report
Fishing has been very good this winter in Clearwater and the Tampa Bay fishing area. Our weather here on the west coast has held up for the most part with just a couple of cold snaps that sent the water temperature down below 60 degrees. The sunshine prevailed and temps bounced right back to the normal range of 60 to 65. The fish dislike a drastic change in temperature and will shut down for a few days after a cold front.
The bigger trout have moved into the bays of Clearwater and St. Joseph Sound and will hang around all winter till the water warms up in the spring. Locating the bigger trout is fairly easy as they tend to congregate together in the grass flats that are adjacent to channels and along the spoil islands that dot the bays. The big gator trout over 22 inches are a bit more difficult to find. They can be mixed in with the smaller schools or off on their own in another part of the bay. Searching different areas throughout the inland waters may pay off.
The redfish have been scattered around the shallow waters near the mangroves and are constantly moving. Locating any consistent action has been a daily chore. Cold fronts and extreme low tides keep moving the fish to different parts of the back waters. There are a few areas that small reds can be found with hopes of larger fish moving in this winter.
My trips have been consistent with good numbers of big trout and small redfish taking main stage. Dale, Pam, Jake and Zack joined up and landed lots of trout and a few redfish. They caught the fish using live shrimp under a float type set up. Moving around to different parts of the bay and back water was the ticket for success.
Bob, Christine and Robert had a cold day of catching up some big trout and a few reds. Christine scored the biggest trout at 20 inches and Robert had close second with a 19 inch beauty. We fished with live shrimp, mostly from the float set up around Clearwater and Dunedin bays.
We had a few days of sunshine to warm things up when John, Mike and Pat came out. They caught several dozen trout from 15 to 20 inches with a couple of them at the 20 inch mark. I donít remember who caught the biggest trout because the competition was fierce. Mike did catch the biggest redfish and enjoyed bragging rights. A great time was had by all.
Brian was here in the US from Ireland on business and took a day off to test the waters of Clearwater and St. Joseph Sound. We were on a few redfish in the morning but none were very active. A cold front slide through a day earlier and the water temps dipped below 60 degrees. We relocated and found trout in the north Dunedin waters. Brian landed some 15 fish with the biggest around 19 inches. Also he scored on a nice 18 inch pompano using live shrimp and he took it back for dinner. Thereís nothing better than a beautiful day of catching fish in 58 degree water.
This is the second nice size pompano weíve caught this winter and I hope they stay around for a while.
As long as these cold fronts are not very strong, look for the fishing to continue at an increasing pace. We have had some beautiful days of fishing this January and Iím looking forward to more.
Capt. Gary Burch