Unpredictable weather leads to variety of catches

Fishing around Anna Maria Island this week seems to be following a trend much like the weather — unpredictable.

It has its ups and it has its downs and we seem to experiencing every spectrum of weather. 

One day it’s in the 50s, then one day later it’s in the 80s. Factor in some rain, wind, low pressure and high pressure and it seems impossible to get a consistent read on the weather. 

As for the fishing, I think your best bet is to persevere. Which basically means you need to go out and fish and see what hand you’re dealt. 

On the cooler, less windy days, fishing for sheepshead in Tampa Bay is really starting to heat up. I’m seeing the smaller sheepshead in the 12-inch range but the larger, 15- to 18-inch fish are becoming more frequent. Fishing both reefs and wrecks in Tampa Bay is worthwhile. 

Fishing along the coastal beaches is starting the shape up, too. Whiting and pompano are the primary catches with some black drum and a few small sheepies mixed in. On the windier days, which we’ve had our share of, try fishing residential canals and docks with live shrimp as bait. Black drum, flounder, sheepshead and catch-and-release redfish all like to take refuge in these areas during the cooler months. 

Lastly, on those warmer days, it not a bad idea to drift the deep grass flats with some soft plastics and a jig head. Casting among the sandy potholes and channel edges is yielding good action on pompano and catch-and-release spotted seatrout.

On my Southernaire charters, we’re catching plenty of sheepshead. Although there are some smaller ones mixed in, we’re putting quite a few 15-16 inchers in the cooler. A variety of other species are mixed in with the bite depending on where we are targeting the sheepies. On the structure in Tampa Bay and the Gulf, an abundance of small snapper, black sea bass and Key West grunts are present. While fishing along the beaches, black drum and whiting are available as well as  pompano. And even the docks and canals where sheepies are present, I’m finding many catch-and-release redfish.

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