With frequent cold fronts and variable air temperatures, fishing around Anna Maria Island is comparable to a roller coaster ride.
On the cooler, windy days during the fronts, fishing is proving to be slightly challenging. With temperatures in the low to mid 50s, it’s hard to muster up the motivation to get out on the water. But have no fear, within a couple days, temperatures are back on the rise and sometimes exceeding 80 degrees.
This hiatus in between the fronts are when it’s most advantageous to get out and fish. Not only are the clients more comfortable, but the fish seem to cooperate better, too.
On these warmer days, venturing into Tampa Bay or the Gulf of Mexico is providing to be good for sheepshead. Try the artificial reefs if you don’t have your own secret spots already picked out. Bottom fishing shrimp is luring many sheepshead to the hook as well as Key West grunts, mangrove snapper, porgies and some hogfish. And, if you’re willing to go offshore in depths of 100 feet or more, you may be rewarded with amber jack as well as some large mangrove snapper.
Staying inshore in the bays and Intracoastal Waterway has it’s adding vantages. Drifting and jigging over deep grass flats is yielding pompano as well as bluefish, ladyfish and catch-and-release spotted seatrout. If jigging isn’t your thing, try some canal fishing for sheepshead, black drum and catch-and-release redfish. A medium size live shrimp on a weighted rig will get you on the fish.
Lastly, casting shrimp along the beaches is producing some whiting, black drum and pompano.
On my own Southernaire charters, I’m finding some catch-and-release redfish around local docks and seawalls. There’s some black drum and sheepshead mixed in, for folks who want to bring a fish or two home for dinner.
Fishing along the beaches with jigs tipped with shrimp is providing some pompano action as well as some whiting and small sheepshead.
Lastly, bottom fishing for sheepies around the wrecks and reefs in the Gulf seems to be getting better as the winter progresses.