Fishing Report January 26, 2022

Strong winds and frequent cold fronts are creating challenging fishing conditions around Anna Maria Island.
With a sudden drop in water temperatures, many inshore anglers are seeing the typically-targeted species —snook and trout — to be less attentive than normal.

But don’t be alarmed.

After all, this is Florida and things should warm up nicely in between the cold fronts. And during these warm-ups is when your best chances will occur to find success on the water. Targeting different species will aid in this. Sheepshead, for instance, are very tolerant to colder water temps. In fact, it seems the colder days when the seas are rough are quite good to target these fish.

Pompano also seem to be fairly tolerant of cooler water and can be found in a variety of places including beaches, passes and on the flats. Other species you may find agreeable include black drum and redfish.

Another option may be to venture out into the Gulf to deeper water. In this deeper water you’ll find more consistent water temps which keeps the fish that inhabit this area more comfortable and therefore more apt to take a bait.
The artificial reefs and ledges within 10 miles of shore are great places to drop a bait in hopes of hooking into some grouper and snapper. For all the species mentioned live shrimp as bait will work great.

Going through the trouble of catching live shiners or pinfish as bait is fine but the live shrimp are just as good this time of year. In fact, for a lot of species you may find the shrimp work better when it’s cold. So, you might want to try giving the snook and trout a break and target some other species that fit this season.

On my Just Reel charters I am working a variety of areas for a variety of species. Fishing along the beaches is yielding pompano, black drum and sheepshead. Of course, live shrimp as bait is working the best for these species. For the pompano, a jig tipped with shrimp is also quite effective.

On calm days when the winds are light and easterly, I am venturing into the Gulf to fish ledges and the artificial reefs. In these areas, I’m seeing big sheepshead being reeled up as well as a mangrove and lane snapper. There’s also an abundance of Key West grunts available for those wanting to have a fish fry. Lastly, checking floating debris in the Gulf is leading to some keeper tripletails.