Fishing Report from For Shore Fishing.
December 28, 2018
By Michael Wilson / Ledger correspondent
Gag Grouper — The gag grouper bite remains very good right now in the Tampa Bay area. Anglers have through December 31 to keep grouper for table fare.
Strike Zone, 2, 4, 5, 7, Elsewhere
1: At Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, lots of silver trout and whiting have been caught this past week. Small blacktip and bonnethead sharks are still being caught. Sheepshead are down around the pilings, but the water has been murky. Anglers should note, Pier hours will be 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve and the pier will be closed for the holiday, reports Big Pier 60 Bait & Tackle (727-462- 6466).
2: At Madeira Beach, near shore, the gag grouper bite has been great when the weather permits getting out. The hogfish bite has also been steady. The mangrove and lane snapper is also good. Deeper offshore, out past 100 foot, the gag grouper and mangrove snapper bite is very good when the water is clear and weather permits, reports Capt. Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina (727-393-1947).
3: At John’s Pass, the sheepshead bite has been great around the John’s Pass Bridge and the jetties. Lots of silver trout and whiting are also being caught around the jetties and the beaches on live shrimp on the bottom. Black drum are still around and cruising the seawalls around the docks. The redfish bite has been good in the back bay waters around the oyster bars. The night bight has been especially good with the full moon tides, reports Capt. Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina (727-393-1947).
4: At Fort DeSoto Park, gag grouper are being caught around the bridges and docks in the area and along the shipping channel. Some snook are still around the marina and the docks. The potholes on the flats are producing redfish, snook, and trout on the low tides on shrimp and artificials. Out at the pier, there’s some sheepshead, but the water is real dirty, reports the Bait Bucket (727-864-2108).
5: Around the Sunshine Skyway and lower Tampa Bay, the gag grouper bite is excellent and will be right up to closure through Dec. 31. The areas around the Skyway Bridge and the south pier have been producing. Gag grouper are also being caught on the reefs and hard bottom inside the bay and the edge of the shipping channel both while trolling and bottom fishing, reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters. (941-705-3160).
6: At Anna Maria, extreme tides have pushed the best bite for snook, trout, and redfish to the docks along the west side of Anna Maria Sound and deeper water adjacent to the flats of the sound. Sheepshead are around all the bridges and any structure in the area. The Cortez Bridge has been especially good, reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters. (941-705-3160).
7: At St. Petersburg, gag grouper fishing is good all around the Sunshine Skyway and the edge of the shipping channel in the bay. Sheepshead and some mangrove snapper are on most structure, rock piles, bridges, and the edge of the channel as well. Pinellas Point is good for snook, trout, redfish and some flounder. The dock lines are also producing some redfish, reports Larry Mastry of Mastry’s Bait & Tackle (727-896-8889).
8: In the north end of Tampa Bay, the snook bite is pretty good in the afternoons around Weedon Island and to the north around Double Branch and Rocky Creek. There’s also some big trout (22-23 inches) mixed in with them. Sheepshead and some mangrove snapper are at the Howard Frankland and Gandy Bridges, and the reefs in the bay, reports Capt. Tim Whitfield of Swift Fish Charters. (813-714-0889).
– At Homosassa, it’s the last few days to put a gag grouper in the fish box. Depths from 12 to 30 feet are good to target them with trolling plugs, live pinfish, and cut mullet. The trout bite is good as they sun in the shallow depths along the edges of deeper channels and holes. Live shrimp is producing sheepshead, mangrove snapper, and black drum along the deeper areas on the north side of the river, reports Capt. William Toney of Homosassa Inshore Fishing Charters (352-621-9284).
– At Sebastian Inlet, the flounder bite is really good with fish up to six to seven-pounds regularly being caught for our annual tournament that runs through Jan. 31. The snook and redfish bite is good on pinfish and big shrimp. Pompano are biting in the surf when it’s not too windy. “The bluefish bite has been crazy,” reports Casper McConnell at Whitey’s Bait & Tackle (321-724-1440).
– At Fort Pierce, offshore, the bottom bite is good for mangrove and mutton snapper and a few cobia at the 80 foot depth. At the inlet, the south side of the jetty is producing flounder. Inside the inlet, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, black drum, and a few croakers are being caught. There’s a good trout bite in the river to the north from Harbor Branch to Round Island, reports Clint Walker at the Fishing Center of St. Lucie (772-465-7637).
“May your lines be tight and your shake off’s and break off’s memorable.”