by CAPT. DOUG HEMMER
The New Year will produce unique fishing opportunities. Cooler water temperatures will push the mackerel and kingfish into deeper water. The first place to target is the reefs in 40 feet of water. The deeper parts of the reef will be warmer than the shallow waters closer to the beach. They will stay in the 40- to 60-ft zone until the water temperature drops into the 50's.
The snook will move into the rivers and deep residential canals in the upper parts of Tampa Bay. Redfish will school in the shallows during extreme low tides. Trout will stay in the 3- to 4-ft zone until we get a front that drops the water temperature into the 50's. When this happens, the trout will move to the drop-off closest to area they were hanging in.
Sheepshead will be moving from inside Tampa Bay to the areas close to the beach. This is the annual spawning migration that pushes the Sheepshead out of the bay to spawn along the structure that lines the near shore areas.
Snook will be the hardest fish to target. The best action will be in the canals that feed the east side of Tampa Bay. A cream or white-colored jerk bait worked slowly across the bottom will draw strikes from these slow to react wintertime feeder
Trout fishing will be the most productive during cooler periods. The flats north of the Dunedin causeway are some of the best areas to fish. Work the spoil islands and the potholes close to the navigation channel. The best rigs to use are live shrimp, top water plugs and jigs worked close to the bottom. The best feeding times are during a fast moving tide.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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