Winter settles in around Anna Maria, choose days and location for fishing success

Trying to find a window of opportunity to fish around Anna Maria Island is becoming challenging as winter is settling in. 

Numerous cold front occurring every 4-5 days bringing high winds, rough seas and dropping water temperatures is making it difficult to get out in the boat and find some fish receptive to your offerings of either live bait or lures.

Timing is everything here, so plan accordingly. Try to schedule your fishing excursions between the cold fronts. Sometimes the longer you wait before the next front, the better the fishing can be. 

On days when the winds are from the east, fishing along the beaches can be productive. Soaking live shrimp on a bottom rig can lead to action from fish such as black drum, sheepshead and whiting. And, if you’re not into sitting around waiting on a bite, you can always try jigging. Casting small jigs tipped with shrimp will attract pompano as well as the other species mentioned. 

For those fortunate enough to live on a canal, this time of year can be productive. Casting live shrimp into the canals from the comfort of your backyards can lead to action on spotted seatrout, redfish and even an occasional snook. You’ll find sheepshead, black drum and mangrove snapper in those areas, too. But, if you just have to be in the boat, try to pick your days. The artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico are holding sheepshead, snapper and grunts, but it has to be fairy calm to be comfortable enough to fish these areas. And if it’s not, you can always migrate into the canals to dock fish or into the back reaches of some of the bays such as Terra Ceia, Palma Sola or Sarasota Bay. Fish do migrate into these areas to find slightly warmer and calmer water. And, if you time it right, you may find success.

On my Just Reel charters, I’m having to adjust my plans daily depending on the weather. On calm days, fishing structure in the Gulf around ledges and artificial reefs is proving to be productive for sheepshead, snapper and grunts. On windier days, I’m being confined to fishing docks in canals or sheltered areas around mangrove shorelines to find a bite. In these areas, I’m seeing redfish, black drum and an occasional under-slot snook. Lastly, drifting and jigging in Sarasota Bay is producing some action on pompano, although that bite has been hit or miss.

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