January fishing was, as is typically the case, weather challenged.  Outstanding large seatrout fishing was possible on any day where the weather was even reasonably cooperative. Days following cold fronts, when water temperatures dipped into the low 50's, were challenging.  With that said, March is right around the corner and everything will get better.

Looking into out into February, excellent trout fishing should remain.  Targeting these fish is best done with swim tail jigs (such as the "Slammer" manufactured by Pumpkin Jigs), big shrimp and whitebait, when available. Chasing whitebait when temps dip below 60 degrees is typically extra challenging though so it might be wise to pay a visit to the local bait shop on these days. Average Tampa Fishing Charters generally yield a dozen to 15 quality trout, while, on days when conditions are just right, 30 trout in the 18 to 20 inch range is not uncommon. Expect this bite to continue on well into March, when some of the largest fish (24 - 26 inches) of the year are caught.  Water temperatures will eventually push these bigger trout out of the sound towards the end of March.

Jumbo Clearwater Seatrout

Redfish are starting to show a little bit better and can be caught on some days.  Pitching baits at residential docks is one of the most effective ways to catch redfish during the colder months although this fishing can be frustrating.  First, work may need to be put in a 4 - 5 docks before one holding fish is actually found.  Second, these "dock fish" in the winter tend to be smaller and third, when a big one is found, it may break off around a pole before the angler has much of a chance.  Other areas to search for late winter redfish are on shallow flats, where these fish go seeking food and warmer water.  Check out these flats on very low, incoming tides on sunny (warming) days for the best luck.  There is no food a redfish likes more than shrimp, but small pinfish and cut baits will also get the job done.

For a change of pace, slide outside and fish rocky bottom areas for mangrove snapper.  With all primary inshore gamefish closed to harvest, this option provides some excellent table fare.  Finding a group of these fish willing to eat isn't a guarantee but this time of year can be very good. On some days, these fish can be chummed up off the bottom where they become quite visible.  This is an awesome sight and can also make it very apparent, to the anglers lucky enough to see this, how finicky these fish can be.  Light leaders and naturally presented baits are key to putting these in the cooler. On the way back in, attention should be paid to crab buoys, which may hold a triple tail or two.  These fish can also be harvested however be aware the the length limit on triple tail is now 18 inches.

Late Winter Redfish and Snapper

On recent Tampa Clearwater Fishing Charters, several groups of larger snook have been spotted although these fish have shown a distinct "lack of desire" to eat.  A mental note should be made as to the location of these fish.  Once two or three days of mid seventy degree temps  have occurred, revisit these fish with large whitebait to see if their attitude has changed.

Looking for a few new fishing adventures in the great state of Florida? Visit Osceola Outback. This operation represents the only place in the US where you can catch the Australian Barramundi.  These fish behave similarly to snook when hooked and will eat a wide range of artificials, including flies. Great sport.  Another in-state adventure is targeting the South American peacock bass in the canals of Miami and the Everglades. Although the fish do not reach the size of the fish in the Amazon, they are aggressive and powerful fish and provide excellent entertainment. Contact Captain Alan Zaremba.  Good luck and good fishing.  


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