Well 2020 ended and man I’m glad to get afresh start with anew year. 2020 had surprises like no one could imagine and it has been a challenge to be a full-time fishing guide in Tampa Bay. But I am hopeful for a better 2021 and things will soon get better. Fishing wise 2020 was a good one and it ended on a good note with plenty for Snook, Reds and Trout mixed with a bunch of other species mixed in. Here is a look at what to expect for January of 2021
As water cools fish will eventually make their way up the rivers and creeks. Snook fishing looks to be very productive going into one of the colder months of the year. As long as the white bait stays in the bay the Snook fishing will continue to be productive. Look to fish creeks and residential canals as these areas that provide warmer water and we all know Snook like warmer water this time of year. Free lined bait is a great option; 30lb Fluorocarbon leader matched with Daiichi 1/0 circle hook will ensure for a safe release. Remember Snook are catch and release.
Bait will move around the deepest areas of the bay and eventually make its way to the mouth by the Skyway. Catching bait is a chore and can provide more challenges as it shifts to the markers. Having a good sonar is a plus so you can see it on the bottom. Bait tends to gather on the bottom as water is warmer. I also like to use side sonar or as Lowrance calls it Structure Scan. This actually shoots a signal to either side of the boat so you can see if the bait is actually inside the towers. Lowrance HDS makes great detail sonar that makes the job a little easier. Bring some chum to bring the bait to the surface and the heaviest 12 foot net you can find and you will be ready to catch bait.
If going through all that effort is not your thing, shrimp is another option that can be very productive during the winter months. You will catch a variety of species on shrimp and you don’t have to worry about throwing the net. Redfish love shrimp and makes for a slow presentation which is needed on the colder days. Soaking a select sized shrimp on the bottom will be a very productive way to catch a ton of Reds this time of year.
Trout fishing has to be a top producer as well. Trout from all sizes flood the flats and seem to LOVE artificial bait. You will have a ball catching numbers and size. Zman paddlerz and minnoz soft [plastics are some of the top producers. Remember that Trout are very slimy for a reason because the slime coat protects them. It’s always a good idea to have a De hooker handy on the boat to release fish safely and to keep the kill rate down so we have fish for years to come. Tight lines!