Hot fishing action in new year despite cold weather
January fishing is proving to be productive in our local waters despite recent cold fronts. If you haven’t noticed, mild temperatures and calm waters are out numbering cold windy days and, although unexpected in January, we’ll take what we can get.
I’m patrolling the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, where I’m finding a number of species ready to bite. Right along the shoreline I’m finding pompano, which is always a welcome sight. Small pink jigs tipped with shrimp are attracting these tasty fish to take the bait. Mixed in with the pomps are ladyfish, bluefish, jack crevalle and bonnethead sharks, which provide great light-tackle action in between pompano bites.
Moving out to slightly deeper water and around structure, the abundance of mangrove snapper is astonishing. Limits of these fish are being caught in depths of 15-20 feet. Live shrimp fished on a knocker rig is working best for me, resulting in snapper up to 18 inches. You may have to weed through the spot tails to get to the snapper, but the prize is there as long as you are persistent and have an ample supply of shrimp.
Fishing nearshore structure is resulting in other species — sheepshead, flounder, juvenile grouper and a couple of undersized cobia. All of these species are coming on to shrimp.
Lastly, fishing on the windy days is challenging at best. I’m resorting to fishing local docks and canals, which is resulting in sheepshead, redfish and black drum. Live shrimp or Berkeley Gulp shrimp on a jig head are producing strikes.