Fishing Report 16, 2022

Now that winter has settled in, finding success while fishing around Anna Maria Island is requiring some patience and perseverance. 

While fishing the inshore waters,  you may find it hard to locate fish and if you do get them to bite, it’s proving to be a lengthy process. 

Finding water temperatures above 60 degrees is a good place to start. Residential canals and docks are a great area to concentrate your time. These waters tend to stay slightly warmer than the open waters. They are generally deeper and the concrete sea walls that surround them warm in the sun. This warming may not be drastic, but you’ll find that sometimes a couple of degrees can make the difference.

Casting live shrimp in these areas will attract sheepshead, black drum and redfish to the hook, and if you’re lucky, you may encounter mangrove snapper, spotted sea trout and even a motivated snook. 

Once you’ve located the fish, patience and perseverance will come in to play. Since the waters are chilly, these fish are not looking to exert a lot of energy. The bite may be subtle and you may find longer periods of time between bites. The key is to keep presenting bait until the fish meander over and decide to feed. 

Stealth is another factor. Since fish are cold they may become a little spooky. When casting to fish, try to use the least amount of weight possible to minimize the splash as your bait enters water. In fact, if you can get away with no weight it would in your advantage.

If patience isn’t your forte, try fishing the calmer days when you can comfortably get around out in the Gulf of Mexico. The deeper waters around the artificial reefs and wrecks are producing good action on sheepshead, snapper and grunts. In deeper water, these fish are more comfortable due to steady water temperatures and plenty of structure to hide in. Live shrimp on the bottom rig of your choice should attract these fish to bite. 

And, finally if fishing in the cold is just not your thing, don’t be discouraged — springtime is right around the corner. 

The warm comfortable days of sunny Florida will be back soon enough and the excellent inshore fishing we enjoy will be back as well.

On my own Just Reel charters, I’m finding the best action around local reefs and wrecks in Tampa Bay and in the Gulf of Mexico. Sheepshead, mangrove snapper and Key West grunts are quite plentiful in these areas. The key to this bite is having light breezes and calm seas. 

On windier days, I’m finding myself confined to the inshore waters. Fishing residential canals and docks is providing some action but it depends on the day. Redfish, spotted seatrout, sheepshead and black drum are being found in these areas.