Redfish: The redfish bite is good for anglers in many places in the Tampa Bay area and elsewhere.
1: at Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, Sheepshead, whiting and pothead sharks have been the most consistent catches this week. A few mangrove and lane snappers are also biting. Occasionally, redfish and speckled trout have also come over the rails, reports Big Pier 60 Bait & Tackle (727-462-6466).
2: On the beach of Madeira, near shore, the hogfish and rail snapper bite is outstanding. The best depth to target hogfish is around 30 feet, but snapper are shallower and are also good for deep water. There are also a good number of porgies and grunts in the mix near shore. Further offshore, there is a good red grouper bite. Grouper, along with mangrove, yellowtail and red snapper, are also biting in deep water. Pelagic anglers are getting blackfin tuna and “an opportunity to do so,” reports Capt. Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina (727-393-1947).
3: In the footsteps of John, silver trout, whiting and the occasional pompano bite from the jetty and the beach. There are still bunches of sheepshead and black drum around the bridge, piers and neck structure. A few snook have been caught on the docks in the early hours of the morning. Speckled trout also bite around docks and lights at night. Hubbard reports decent numbers of redfish biting in the back bays.
4: In Fort De Soto Park, Sheep are being caught around the marina, bridge, seawall and pretty much any structure in the area. Small shrimp, along with fiddler and rock crabs are getting the bite. The channels around Tierra Verde are producing good numbers of speckled trout up to 20 inches on live shrimp under a float. Snook are also biting inside Tierra Verde bays. Good numbers of redfish are being caught on the flats around Tarpon, Bird and Jackass keys. East Beach is also good for red hen. The boat ramp area within the park is producing good numbers of mangrove snapper. Irma Pass on Shell Key is producing good numbers of whiting. At the dock, plenty of sheepshead are biting around the balls, reports Capt. Claude Hinson of Tierra Verde Bait and Tackle (727-864-2108).
5: Around the Sunshine Skyway and lower Tampa Bay, Fishing around the Sunshine has remained solid, especially for walleye, redfish and speckled trout. Beaches also bite the hard, sandy bottom and some of the potholes on the flats. Some juvenile tarpon between 20 and 40 pounds have also been caught in some deep winter spots, reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters (941-705-3160. Sheepshead are in full spawn mode in the lower Bay from Tampa). The big females have settled in and will eat almost any shrimp or crab you put in front of them. Bridge pilings and any of the artificial reefs in the bay are holding sheepshead right now. Speckled trout fishing has been productive in Terra Ceia. Bay and in the Manatee River on shrimp under popping cork, reports Capt. John Gunter of Palmetto (863-838-5096).
6: To Anna Maria, the hogfish bite has been very good on Anna Maria Island when the weather permits offshore travel. Water 35 to 50 feet deep has been producing the best numbers, Gunter reports. Sheepshead are congregating in all their normal spots around structure. Bridges, levees, docks and rocks around Longboat Pass have good numbers, Crawford reports.
7: In Saint Petersburg, there is a good speckled trout bite on live shrimp fished near the bottom around Pinellas Point. Sheepshead are being caught on fiddler crabs and shrimp on all bridges and reefs in the bay area. Over the next few weeks, black drum should begin congregating on the bridges and canal edges near the St. Pete. Carve blue crab, live shrimp and Berkley Gulp! Saltwater shrimp hooked near the bottom will get the bite, reports Capt. Neill Holland of GoFishTampaBay.com (727-200-7781).
8: At the northern end of Tampa Bay, redfish and speckled trout are biting on the flats in the area. Redfish are also biting in the upper bay around Rocky Creek and Double Branch. A few snook are also biting in the upper bay in these areas as well. Sheepshead are still biting almost any structure and bridges. Bridges are also producing black drum and jack crevalle. Whiting and a few bass are biting along the dikes and in the deeper channels. Whiting have also been caught around the Gandy boat ramp channel. Cobia are being caught around the powerhouse outlets and on the bay markers. Tripletail are also biting some of the bay markers, reports Gandy Bait & Tackle (813-839-5551).
In another part
∙ In Homosassa and Crystal River, warmer river waters that average 10 degrees warmer than the Gulf are producing redfish and crappie. Live shrimp on a jig head on the edges of the crispers are good for redfish. Live shrimp and jerkbaits with nose hooks, such as a brightly colored 5.5-inch DOA CAL, are catching the snook. Potholes with warmer water on the flats are also producing speckled trout on jerkbaits. Near shore, in 8 to 20 feet of water, high rock piles and ledges are producing sheepshead on shrimp and crab, reports Capt. Marrio Castello of Tall Tales Charters (352-454-7719).
∙ In Fort Pierce, offshore on the bottom, plenty of lane snapper and a few mangroves are biting in 20-50 feet. A few cobia are being caught on the bottom in 50 to 80 feet. That same depth is producing kingfish near the surface as they slowly troll live baits. North of the inlet, the 20- to 30-foot reefs are producing sheepshead, porgies, snapper and croakers. Spanish mackerel are biting near the surface at the same depth. At the entrance, the Pompanos are biting the surf, both north and south. Whiting, corvins, bluefish and the occasional mackerel are also biting the surf. In the inlet, the snook catch and release live shrimp and DOA shrimp. Mangrove snapper, sheepshead and black drum are also biting in the inlet and around the bridges. The Melody Lane Pier is good for sand bass, reports the Fishing Center of St. Lucie (772-465-7637).