Fishing Report February 7, 2016

No Mas El Nino Por Favor

Thanks the El Nino, our weather is consistently inconsistent, however the fishing around Anna Maria Island is holding true for February — as long as you can make it out on the water.

Typically this time of year is known for its abundance of sheepshead. And despite the up and down temperatures and numerous fronts, the sheepies are here. And boy, are they ever.

The artificial reefs, wrecks and rock piles in both Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico are rapidly becoming infested with the little buck-toothed barnacle grazers. The local fishing piers, residential docks and bridges are holding fish, too. Preferred baits are live shrimp, fiddler crabs, sand fleas and tubeworms. All but the shrimp you have to catch yourself, but if you’re in a hurry, the shrimp will work just fine.

Other fishing occurring around Anna Maria Island includes fishing the residential canals. Areas such as Key Royale and Bimini Bay are great places to start. Why fish these canals you ask? Well, during the winter when water temps drop, you can typically find slightly warmer water in these areas. I think the sea walls have something to do with it. The sun warms these walls, which in turn warms the water. Plus, the canals are usually sheltered from the wind and they are generally deeper than the surrounding waters, which in turn can provide a more consistent atmosphere for the fish.

Try casting live shrimp on a weighted rig along seawalls, under docks and even around mangroves hanging over the water. You’ll most likely find redfish, snook, trout, black drum, sheepshead and flounder. Not bad for practically fishing in someone’s backyard. Granted, this fishing may not be the most glamorous, but it’s definitely more glamorous than coming home empty handed.

On my own fishing trips with Just Reel Fishing Charters, we’re targeting sheepies on the local artificial reefs and rock piles. Not only do these fish put up a scrappy fight, but they’re also pretty darn great on the dinner plate, too. The sheer abundance of these fish makes for some great action and also some tired arms for my clients.

I’m also fishing along the beaches and finding a variety of species available. By using small jigs tipped with shrimp, I’m finding pompano, permit, bluefish and mackerel quite accommodating. In the same areas, I’m also seeing redfish, sheepshead, black drum and flounder, although not with the regularity of the other species mentioned.