Fishing Report from For Shore Fishing.
By Michael Wilson / Ledger correspondent
Sheepshead— Sheepshead remain the most consistent species for Tampa Bay Area anglers. Most areas around the bay and elsewhere are reporting an excellent wintertime sheepshead bite.
Strike Zone, 1, 3-8, Elsewhere
1: At Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, some Spanish mackerel were still biting in the morning, but the real cold weather has pushed them out. Sheepshead down around the pilings are about the only fish biting now. Anglers should note, the bait shop and pier will be closed for renovations between January 22 – February 2. “We will open again Saturday, February 3 and the pier’s hours will remain 6:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (seven days a week) until further notice,” reports Big Pier 60 Bait & Tackle (727-462- 6466).
2: At Madeira Beach, “We were only able to get out near shore fishing one time in the past six days. A brief window on Tuesday allowed us to capitalize on the nice weather. Luckily the fish were ready to cooperate too. We didn’t get a ton of hogfish, but got a handful on the all-day trip and one fish on the half-day. The grunts, lane snapper, porgies, and black sea bass were chewing though,” reports Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina (727-393-1947).
3: At John’s Pass, “Sheepshead continue to be the headline news around Johns Pass inshore fishery,” reports Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina (727-393-1947). The redfish bite on the flats inside the bay is going well too. Multiple redfish were chewing around the backside of the northern island just inside Johns Pass, reports Hubbard.
4: At Fort DeSoto Park, snook and redfish can be found in the shallow canals with dark, muddy bottom. Dark color jerk baits worked very slowly, will get the bite. Black drum can be caught in the same areas on live shrimp. All the area bridges and docks are holding sheepshead. Lots of redfish are on the flats around the area islands on the low tides, reports Capt. Brett Norris of Rock Bottom Charters out of O’Neill’s: (727-512-4415).
5: Around the Sunshine Skyway and lower Tampa Bay, the Skyway Bridge and the approach bridges are holding sheepshead around the pilings. The area reefs are also holding sheepshead along with flounder. Black sea bass are being caught along the edge of the shipping channel, but you have to move around to find them. Look for redfish around docks and seawalls with easterly sun exposure and deeper water, reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters of Bradenton (941-705- 3160).
6: At Anna Maria, fish the docks and areas protected from the wind and look for structure. Redfish, sheepshead, and black drum will be your target species. Once the water temperature rises again, look for flounder in upper Sarasota Bay, reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters of Bradenton (941-705- 3160).
7: At St. Petersburg, there were some trout up to 15 inches biting in Boca Ciega Bay around the Gulfport Pier area. Jerk baits worked real slow are the best baits. Sheepshead are still biting around any structure and in the back water canals, creeks, and rivers. There’s also some redfish and black drum in the same areas. “The black drum are the small, keeper size that are good eating,” reports Larry Mastry of Mastry’s Tackle (727-896-8889).
8: In the north end of Tampa Bay, “the sheepshead bite is on fire. We’re catching sheepshead with shrimp on a jig head while fishing the area rock piles, bridge pilings, and oyster bars. Redfish, trout, and sheepshead have also been biting up the creeks and anywhere you can find warmer water. Look for the oyster bars. The fish are keying in on crustaceans right now and the oyster bars hold the food,” reports Capt. Jake Whitfield Florida Outdoor Adventures (813-997-5980).
– At Homosassa, “I’ve had recent success on sea trout with a three inch D.O.A. Shrimp in glow color at the springs in both the Crystal River and Homosassa,” reports Capt. William Toney of Homosassa Inshore Fishing Charters (352-621-9284). Structure in 8-10 feet of water is holding some nice sheepshead. Live shrimp on a bottom, knocker rig or fished on a jig head will get the bite, Tony reports.
– At Fort Pierce, a few pompano are being caught from the jetty on Doc’s Goofy Jigs. Bottom anglers are getting black drum, sheepshead, and big croakers in the inlet and around the bridges. Inside the river, there’s redfish up in the mangroves on live shrimp and some trout on the flats. “Offshore is a blowout,” reports Clint Walker at the Fishing Center of St. Lucie (772-465-7637).
– At Sebastian Inlet, there’s still some nice pompano and whiting on the beach on clams and sand fleas. There’s also a few permit and black drum. In the inlet, it’s sheepshead, black drum, and the occasional redfish and snook. There’s also lots of the usual bluefish, jacks, and Spanish mackerel. Small trout are being caught in the river, reports Whitey’s Bait & Tackle (321-724-1440).
“May your lines be tight and your shake off’s and break off’s memorable.”