Choose your days for best fishing action

Fishing between cold fronts can make all the difference in the world when fishing around Anna Maria Island during the winter months. 

With this last front, winds exceeding 30 m.p.h. and air temps in the 40s, put quite a damper on fishing for a few days. But the “in-betweens” can produce some great days on the water. Light winds and air temps in the 70s are ideal for getting out on the water. 

Targeting species such as pompano, sheepshead and black drum can result in some great wintertime action. And all three species will readily take a live shrimp as bait, which makes it easy for those who aren’t into throwing a cast net. You simply buy the shrimp by the dozen at your favorite bait show. 

If you’re fishing from shore, targeting the sheepies and black drum may be as easy as going out to the dock behind your house or visiting the Rod & Reel Pier. Fishing around the bridges and other areas where structure exists is also a good bet. 

As for the pompano, you can try fishing the beaches on mornings when the tide is high and the Gulf is calm. Casting shrimp-tipped jigs along the shorelines is a great way to hook a pompano and you could hook into other species, too. Jack crevalle, ladyfish and whiting are present in these areas.

If you’re on the boat, try the artificial reefs and wrecks for the sheepies. Dock fishing will work for these buck-toothed convict-striped fish, too. Around the docks you’ll probably encounter a black drum or two as well as some catch-and-release redfish. For the pompano, try drifting over deep grass areas and cast a jig through the sandy potholes. Tipping that jig with a shrimp will help. And, if it’s calm enough to get out in the Gulf, fishing the nearshore ledges is a great way to catch some fish for a fish fry. Key West grunts, hogfish and porgies are great candidates for this purpose.

On my Southernaire charters, I’m seeing plenty of black drum, sheepshead and catch-and-release redfish being reeled it. Casting live shrimp around docks and other structure is yielding this bite. Although the real numbers of sheepshead have yet to appear, we’re still managing to put some good ones in the box. 

Targeting pompano over deep grass areas and along the beaches is providing some action. Mixed in are some big whiting as well as ladyfish and jack crevalle, which helps to fill the gaps between pompano bites.