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Weekly fishing report
Posted Dec 23, 2011 by Tribune Sports
Updated Dec 23, 2011 at 01:40 AM
By JIM LEE
Bass catches have been very good overall this week. The wind was a problem in some big open lakes, but not everywhere. Not much information on speckled perch (crappie), but you can catch them. Use a drift anchor (or two) and go after them. Go fish.
KISSIMMEE CHAIN: Grape Hammock Fish Camp, (863) 692-1500: Bass fishing continues to be great. Bass to 3, 4, 5 pounds, and more are being caught on both live bait and artificial lures. Due to the winds, most anglers are fishing for specks early in the mornings and catching about half the limit by noon.
LORIDA-ISTOKPOGA: Trails End Fishing Resort guide service, (863) 655-0134: NO REPORT. However, this lake has had very good bass catches the past few weeks. Speckled perch have also been the good catch. Be sure to call ahead.
LAKE OKEECHOBBEE: Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort, 800-473-6766: Bass catches were very good, with one angler catching and releasing over 40 bass to 5 pounds. Live shiners were the bait, as he had to come back to get more bait after his first two dozen were taken. No report on specks.
LAKES TARPON AND ROUSSEAU: Captain Frank Bourgeois, (352) 666-6234: Lake Tarpon: No Report. Lake Rousseau is back in the bass business. Bass to 4 pounds taken on artificial lures, along with several smaller fish. Artificial worms and jerk baits were good baits to use.
LAKE PANASOFFKEE: Pana Vista Lodge, (352) 793-2061: Live shiners took the week, with good numbers of bass taken. Most were in the 3 and 4 pound class with a few over 5 pounds. Speckled perch are not yet in abundance.
There are plenty of red grouper in 40 to 50 feet, close in these days, but finding a red keeper is tough. Gags are illegal to take, although they are in great abundance. Inshore, the trout catches have been off except in a few places. Tampa Bay has been fairly good, but most are shorter than 20 inches. Better catches reported as far South as Sarasota. In Tarpon springs you need to fish the drop off places and deeper holes. Very low tides and winds have played a big part in the lack of trout. The Bayport area has been tough lately with mostly smaller trout. Remember, trout are still closed in the southern region, below Howard Park, through December. Above Howard Park will be closed in the month of January. Redfish can be found around docks during the cool weather and at the mouths of the rivers and creeks after it begins to warm. Currently they seem to be back on the shoreline flats. Flounder are still inshore and are most anywhere from the Skyway to Crystal River. Sheepshead are big now as they have moved into their usual haunts. Docks, structure, canals and any place that will hold fish you can find sheepshead up to 9 pounds.
Even though gag grouper are plentiful on the Central West Coast of Florida, Government restrictions by NOAA have outlawed keeping gag grouper. Gags are thick in the 20 to 40 foot deep areas as usual this time of year and in the ships channel near the Skyway. With all this, tourists can look forward to catching a few flounder, sheepshead and maybe a redfish in the southern region, and what few trout are available. Snook are biting in the back water areas around Tampa Bay.
10,000 ISLANDS: Captain Corey McMillin, (239) 695-4420: There has been a good snook bite and it should continue as long as these cold fronts keep stalling. Redfish and trout are the other white meat in this area. Goliath grouper are readily available in the deep holes, but you must return them unmolested. Don’t take them out of the water even for a picture. Goliath grouper are so thick offshore they are taking over the grouper and mangrove snapper holes. They will steal anything you hook in some areas.
SARASOTA: Captain Rick Grassett, (941) 350-9790 or (941) 923-7799: Snook catches in Venice at night were good. Along with 18 snook, 6 trout and 4 reds were caught. In the Gulf, 3 bonito took flies, but there were plenty of these fish, but they were a little picky.
RUSKIN: South Shore Bait & Tackle, (813) 641-2010: Some tarpon were seen, but not caught. Slot size redfish are being caught in 2 to 6 feet of water. Trout are plentiful but you can’t keep them until after the first of the year. Fly rod anglers, you might consider going to the power plant and see if you can’t get a resident tarpon on the end of that stick. Snook are also being caught in the back waters. Large sheepshead up to 8 and 9 pounds are being caught in the Bay and they eat very well. Grouper in the Bay are also closed. Flounder are still an item too.
SKYWAY AREA: Captain Sergio Atanes, (813) 973-7132: The sheepshead bite is on. Big sheepshead, flounder and redfish are the main targets in this area. The winds have been a problem, but the Bay is still very fishable. Trout are closed through December.
LOWER TAMPA BAY: Captain Tony Frankland, (813) 915-8541: Sheepshead bite is very good on the edge of the ships channel rocks. Also fish the Port Manatee area for sheepshead. Fishing the docks and structure has been good for snook. Docks are also producing good size red fish. A few blues have mixed in with the trout, but only a few. Smaller jacks and mackerel are on the flats too. Trout are still out of season through December 31.
UPPER TAMPA BAY: Cody’s Bait & Tackle, (813) 884-3100: Keep the silver trout. With luck you will catch silver trout that you can keep. However you must return the spotted sea trout without touching them to the water. Wait until January to keep a spotted sea trout. Redfish, and sheepshead are most anglers are catching now along with a few resident snook.
SOUTH PINELLAS: Captain Paul Hawkins, (727) 560-6762: Low tides have that kept many boats out of the skinny water is over with the current south winds. You can still catch good size redfish on the flats. Trout catch and release ends at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, after which you can keep trout in the southern zone. North of Howard Park off Tarpon Springs will be closed during the month of January. Redfish, pompano and bonito are also available.
FISHING PIERS: South Pier, (941) 729-0117: Expect the unexpected. Pier fishing offers most of the current species being caught in the bay. Fish the pier for Mangrove snapper, trout, redfish, perhaps a flounder and even a stray grouper. But you can’t keep the trout or the grouper.
MID-PINELLAS PARTY BOATS: Offshore bottom fishing from Hubbard’s John’s Pass Marina and Kingfish dock, (727) 393-1947: Gag grouper are not in season just as the bite gets good. Red grouper are available by the ton, but most all are short fish. The ration of keepers to undersize fish is 1 to 100. Gray snapper are big and there are plenty of them. Go offshore for a deep sea fishing extravaganza. Fish the deeper waters for great mangrove snapper catches. Black sea bass and big gray snapper are caught in good numbers. You may also catch porgies and amberjack.
GANDY BAIT & TACKLE: (813) 839-5551: The Gandy Bridge is closed to fishing. However, Gandy Bait and Tackle is the place to go in this area for live bait and tackle and information. The upper bay action is picking up. Mangrove snapper and a few sheepshead are moving up into the bay. Mackerel and blues are easier to catch out in the main part of the bay. Weedon Island will produce redfish and soon speckled trout when they come back in season.
CLEARWATER TO DUNEDIN: Captain Brian Mathey, (727) 667-8291: Fish the spoil islands for trout, the shoreline for redfish. Also fish the creek mouths and docks for redfish. Use a live shrimp or white bait with a split shot on to keep the bait on the bottom. Trout, north of Howard Park may be kept until December 31, after which, they will be out of season for the month of January.
TARPON SPRINGS: Captain Rich Knox, (727) 376-8809 or (727) 808-6688: White bait is plentiful. Snook seem to be biting very small baits. Reds were caught on artificial lures including scented jerk baits. Low, low tides are over for the time being, so go fish.
KEATON BEACH (PERRY): One More Cast guide service, (850) 584-9145: According to One More Cast Guide service, trout fishing was grand this week. Redfish flounder and bluefish were on the menu. Most were caught under a Cajun Thunder float with artificial lures, like Saltwater Assassins Copper Penny Slurp, Gulp baits and live bait as well.
HERNANDO BEACH: Captain Frank Bourgeois, (352) 666-6234: Nine mile flats are not currently producing trout as they have in the past. Most of the action is in the residential canals and other protected areas from the 15 to 20 knot winds. Offshore, red grouper, gray snapper and gag grouper to release are all available offshore when the weather improves. Fish up the creeks and rivers for better inshore action. There are plenty of gag and red grouper in 20 to 35 feet of water. The rules for red grouper have changed. You can now keep 4 red grouper 20 inches or more.
WEEKIWACHEE: Captain Steve Soults, Angling Adventures (352) 686-0853: NO REPORT.
FLY FISHING: No excuses this week. Flounder are ‘flopping’, redfish are running, sheepshead are herding, big trout are trouble and all are just waiting for a fly to pass by so they can pounce on it. Fly fishing is the most fun an angler can have so go thrash the water.