Fishing Report from For Shore Fishing.
By Michael Wilson / Ledger correspondent
Sheepshead— With weather conditions and sustained cooler water temps, sheepshead remain the most consistent species to target for Tampa Bay area anglers and locations elsewhere.
Strike Zone, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, Elsewhere
1: At Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, the pier had been closed for renovations but opened on Friday at 2:00 p.m., reports Big Pier 60 Bait & Tackle (727-462- 6466).
2: At Madeira Beach, “The hogfish bite is still going strong despite the full moon from a depth of 40-60 feet. Deeper offshore, the tuna are thick, but it’s been difficult getting to them with the weather. The snapper bite has been good. The moon has the fish on the move and the good weather has them chewing,” reports Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina (727-393-1947).
3: At John’s Pass, sheepshead are still all over the John’s Pass Bridge, jetty, and area docks. There’s some really nice trout around the edges of the flats near the rocks that are exposed to sunlight warming the water. There’s also a lot of snook being seen, but they are sluggish with the cold water, reports Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina (727-393-1947).
4: At Fort DeSoto Park, the sheepshead bite is still pretty good around the bridges and any area with structure. Lots of “rat” redfish are still being caught around the park. There’s also a lot of small trout up to 14 inches being caught. “There’s a good amount of snook around, but the cold weather has made them lethargic. They’ve got lockjaw,” reports Capt. Claude Hinson, of the Bait Bucket (727-864-2108).
5: Around the Sunshine Skyway and lower Tampa Bay, sheepshead are all over the Skyway Bridge area and the approach bridges. Flounder are pretty solid in the South Skyway area. Spanish mackerel have started to show up at both the north and south piers. “The tripletail have moved in thick. Look for them on all the crab pots and markers all the way into the bay,” reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters of Bradenton (941-705- 3160).
6: At Anna Maria, trout are hanging on the edges of the flats adjacent to deeper water of the Intracoastal Waterway in Sarasota Bay. Schools of Spanish mackerel are mixed in with schools of ladyfish in areas holding fry bait. Redfish and black drum are holding in the potholes. “The redfish are lower slot size, but the black drum are good size, some are pushing 32 inches,” reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters of Bradenton (941-705- 3160).
7: At St. Petersburg, “Sheepshead are still all over the place. All the canal docks, rock piles, bridges, and jetties are holding them. Fiddler crabs and shrimp fished with light tackle is the key for these fish,” reports Larry Mastry of Mastry’s Tackle (727-896-8889). The trout bite has picked up off Pinellas Point. Offshore, there’s a good hogfish bite north of the shipping channel in 50 feet of water, reports Mastry.
8: In the north end of Tampa Bay, “The sheepshead bite remains good. Rock piles, oyster bars, bridge pilings, and anything with barnacles are holding them. I’m fishing for them with pinched shrimp on a jig head,” reports Capt. Jake Whitfield Florida Outdoor Adventures (813-997-5980). Black drum up to 24 inches are also mixed in with the sheepshead. Trout are biting shrimp fished under a popping cork in deeper water of the creeks. Some “rat” redfish are also in the same areas, reports Whitfield.
– At Homosassa, the best fishing has been in the rivers on live shrimp. Most of the keeper fish are sheepshead and black drum. A few redfish are in the slot, but most are under size. The tide change has seen the best bite. “The near shore rocks are holding sheepshead, but wind and weather has kept most anglers inshore,” reports Capt. William Toney of Homosassa Inshore Fishing Charters (352-621-9284).
– On the Space Coast, sheepshead are feeding inside Port Canaveral near structure as well as residential canals in both the Indian and Banana Rivers. Live shrimp, fiddler crabs, or cut clams, have all worked well. A few nice black drum up to 19 inches have been caught on fresh cut ladyfish or mullet fished along channel drop-off’s throughout the Haulover and Barge Canals, and the Thousand Islands. The black drum are most active during the first few hours of the day, reports Capt. Keith Mixon of Mixin’ Work With Play Fishing Charters. (321-212-8484).
– At Fort Pierce, “Snook season opened on the Atlantic coast Thursday and we’ve had one nice, slot 31 inch fish from the inlet already,” reports Clint Walker at the Fishing Center of St. Lucie (772-465-7637). Flounder are starting to bite from the south jetty on live shrimp and jigs tipped with shrimp. There’s lots of sheepshead and black drum being caught in the inlet. On the flats inside, trout are biting in two to four feet of water over grass and redfish are biting around deeper water in the mangroves. “I’ve heard nothing about offshore, it’s been too windy,” reports Walker.
“May your lines be tight and your shake off’s and break off’s memorable.”