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Redfish, snook still out there

Posted Jan 17, 2013 by The Tampa Tribune

Updated Jan 17, 2013 at 05:50 PM


Strong winds Thursday and part of today will mean murky water in beaches and passes where pompano action had been good — if the water clears by Saturday, the bite should pick up again, with sand fleas the best bait. (Red tide continues to be an issue in some areas between Manatee and Collier counties — if you see dead fish or discolored water, go elsewhere.)

Captain Ray Markham reports that snook on the south end of Tampa Bay are in their usual spring locations, which is dangerous for them this time of year.

“If we get hit with a hard freeze, many of these fish are on the open flats in shallow water, and the lack of depth as an insulator could be devastating to our remaining fish stocks here on the Gulf Coast,” Markham says.

For the time being, the linesiders have been aggressively hitting topwater lures like the MirrOlure MirrOmullet XL and Rapala Skitterwalk as well as the DOA Shrimp in the gold-and-glow color. Larger jerk baits like the 5.5 CAL Jerk bait, MirrOlure Provoker, 12-Fathom Slam-R, and Texas Shad Assassins. He said big trout are hitting these latter soft plastics rigged on light jig heads in the shallows. Some of the top action for big trout continues to come from the Clearwater Bay/Dunedin area around spoil islands in the Intracoastal.

Redfish action continues to be good in the Fort De Soto area. South Shore anglers on Tampa Bay have had banner catches of slot reds lately. Everything from jerk baits to jigs and spoons are catching redfish. But find them in clear, calm waters and they may be skittish. Some of the more wary fish seem to eat cut baits like mullet or ladyfish, or one of the heavily scented baits like Berkley Gulp or Mister Twister Exude baits.

Markham said sand bars from mid-Sarasota Bay and the Sarasota Bay Middle Grounds flats have been productive for pompano, as have the long sand bars extending from Joe Bay to Cockroach bay along the south shore. CAL Jigs with Shad tails along the shallow bars, and Doc’s Goofy Jigs in deeper water have been the most effective artificial lures. Sand fleas and fiddler crabs account for the largest numbers caught on live baits along the passes near Fort DeSoto and Pass-A-Grille, but live shrimp will work well also.

Some lunker trout are still being caught around the spoil islands from Clearwater Beach northward on live shrimp under popping corks. The rocky bays between the Anclote and Pithlachascotee rivers remain good for both trout and reds. For more info, visit

Captain Mike Shellen reports the EverStart FLW event at Okeechobee last weekend put 177 boats on the water, but catches were less dramatic than last year, with winning weight for the three days around 60 pounds. He said the top two anglers fished around the north side of the lake, with the winning catch coming from the northeast shore. Shellen says high water this year has allowed fish to disperse into the marshes and made them a bit tougher to find. Best action is flippin’ and pitchin’ soft plastics to the cover. Look for a spawn around the coming full moon on the 27th unless a cold front pushes the fish out of the shallows;

Captain Angie Douthit has been catching lunkers for her clients on the south end, both on live shiners and on topwaters. Bulrush areas are frequently good targets from now through spring. She suggests fishing Pelican Bay; Long Point; Buzzards Roost; Rita Island; parts of the East wall, Coots Bay, West Wall and Observation Shoal; 863-228-7263 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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

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