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New-moon tides ramping up the action

Posted Feb 7, 2013 by Jim Holliman

Updated Feb 7, 2013 at 06:13 PM

By FRANK SARGEANT

The new moon means strong tides and low water on the flats of Tampa Bay — a good opportunity to wade and fish the potholes for trout and sheepshead, and the sloughs and bars for tailing reds. The best way to catch the sheepshead is with a fresh-cut shrimp tail on a quarter-ounce jig head. This same rig can be a killer on tailing reds — the scent helps a lot over artificials. The South Shore between the Little Manatee and the Manatee has loads of good spots.

Black drum to 40 pounds are reportedly hanging around the bridges of Tampa Bay, with Gandy the favorite. A couple of fiddler crabs or half a blue crab on a heavy 5/0 hook, fished on bottom close to the pilings, does the job. (The big guys usually have a lot of worms and should be released.)

The usual bite of lunker trout continues in the Intracoastal north of Clearwater, where anglers fish live shrimp around the spoil islands to connect with fish of 5 pounds or more. For mixed-bag fishing, drifting the grass flats north of Anclote is a good bet — cast a 3/8-ounce jig ahead of the boat and you’ll catch trout, black sea bass, grunts and small gag grouper steadily.

Captain Mike Shellen reports from Okeechobee that though the cool-down a week ago slowed the artificial lure bite, shiner fishing is still red hot, with his anglers catching 30 bass per day, including some lunkers over 7 pounds. Prime areas include Grassy Island, J&S area, Horse Island and the North Shore. This weekend, with afternoon temperatures in the 80s, likely will see the lure bite pick up, as well.

Shellen said speck fishing remains excellent, both for numbers and size, with some fish up to 2 pounds. Night anglers are catching them in the Kissimmee River, while daytime anglers are finding them scattered along the Kissimmee grass edges in the lake. A mix of hydrilla and eel grass is a favorite cover. Pierce canal, Tin House and around the outside of King’s Bar are prime, he said; http://www.okeechobeebassfishing.com.

Lake Kissimmee is also turning out heavy bass, with good spots including the southeast shore just above the dam and the east shore of Brahma Island. Drifting with minnows outside the hydrilla lines is catching limits of specks, and some are also spawning in reeds 2 to 4 feet deep — the new moon and warm weather will probably increase this action rapidly.

Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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