Fishing Report January 24, 2018

Don’t let the cold weather put a damper on your fishing plans

After experiencing some of the coldest weather of the year, it’s hard not to get discouraged when trying to catch some fish.

But, you’re in luck. Wintertime fishing around Anna Maria Island can be quite productive if you practice some tried and true methods.

First, you’ll want to target species of fish that can tolerate cooler water temps. Sheepshead are a good bet. In fact, they thrive in the cooler water and will take a shrimp when it’s offered.

Black drum and redfish also are a good bet in these cool conditions.

Next, you need to give some thought on where to fish. For the sheepshead, reefs, wrecks, piers and docks are all good habitat. For the black drum and reds, try fishing docks in areas that are sheltered, such as residential canals. In these areas, the water is slightly warmer, which can make a big difference in the bite.

Fishing offshore is a good bet as long as the seas are calm. Fishing deeper water when the temperatures are most consistent can be quite good for a variety of species — including hogfish, Key West grunts, flounder and even a few snapper.

Lastly, bait choice can play a major role in your success. Live shrimp are a great bait for wintertime fishing. If you’re into artificials, I suggest using soft plastics combined with a jig head. However, when using artificials like these, you want to slow down your retrieve, or the action of the jig. In cooler waters, the fish are less active because they are trying to conserve energy to keep warm. This being said, a fast erratic retrieve will most likely turn a fish off or even spook it. Slow your roll and you might have better success.