Just Reel Fishing Charters: Anna Maria Island Fishing Report January 3, 2024

Good catches despite cold, windy conditions

Despite many cold and windy days, anglers fishing around Anna Maria Island are coming up with good catches. 

The wintertime bite is now in full swing as sheepshead, black drum, redfish, and pompano are being caught along the beaches and in the bays. 

Live shrimp as bait is proving to be useful as the species mentioned are dialed in on the delectable little crustaceans. 

In some instances, it’s as simple as putting a live shrimp on a weighted rig, while in other areas, tipping a jig with a small piece of shrimp can be the ticket. 

Either way, you want shrimp to be included in some way, shape or form if you plan on fishing around Anna Maria Island in January. 

Whether it’s from a pier, the beach or in the boat, it’s time to start frequenting your favorite bait shop to purchase live shrimp as bait before you head out on the water. 

Don’t be surprised to catch a variety of species as most fish that inhabit our waters will gladly eat a shrimp during the cooler months of the year. All species, large and small will usually take interest in the small baits as they are easily stalked and eaten without having to be chased at high speeds. 

Remember the old saying “elephants eat peanuts.” This slogan stands true when it comes to fishing, so be prepared as you never know what is going to take interest in your bait.

On a final note as we ring in the new year, there are new regulations on snook in state and federal waters as of Jan.1. The new regulations establish nine snook management regions and closed seasons and bag and slot limits for each management region. The Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay regions include a closed season from Dec. 1 to the end of February and May 1 to Aug. 31, with a bag limit of one fish. The slot limit is 28–33 inches.

For current recreational snook regulations, along with information about the new management approach, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Snook.” 

On my Just Reel charters, I am having good results when using live shrimp as bait. Catches of redfish and black drum are becoming frequent during morning charters. Sheepshead are starting to make a decent showing and are being caught regularly, too. 

Tipping jigs with small pieces of shrimp is resulting in pompano as well as jack crevalle and ladyfish. 

Lastly, I am having snook take shrimp despite the cold water temps.