Just Reel Fishing Charters: Anna Maria Island Fishing Report January 31, 2024

Inconsistent temps cause inconsistent bite

With temperatures fluctuating from 40-80 degrees in the course of a few days, Anna Maria Island anglers are trying “everything in the book” to get a consistent bite.

Fishing nearshore and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico is as close to consistency as it gets this week, although getting access to the offshore waters remains tricky as strong winds and frequent cold fronts wreak havoc in our area. 

On the other hand, fishing inshore in the back country is attainable on most days even if the wind is blowing but the sacrifice is trying to find a good bites.

On the calmer days, venturing to depths of 50-75 feet of water is proving to be good for a variety of species. Snapper, including lane and mangrove are being caught as well as the other usual suspects such as porgies, Key West grunts and hogfish. Juvenile groupers such as red and gags are in the mix, depending on what structure you’re fishing.

On those winder days, fishing in the back country is requiring patience and plenty of fuel. Fishing around the right rocks and docks is yielding black drum as well as redfish and sheepshead.

A lot of bait stealers such as pinfish and baby sheepshead are present in these areas so make sure to carry an ample amount of shrimp for bait. And with the drastic temperature fluctuations you may find the locations of fish are changing on the daily. When its 50 degrees they’re there and then the next day its 70 degrees and they’re gone. 

So pack some patience and a little determination on these winter days.

On my own Just Reel charters I’m bumping around the back country trying to keep a good bite going. Redfish are being caught around docks and seawalls. Casting live shrimp on a small knocker rig is working. Placement of baits is critical. If you don’t make it in the right spot, you’re not getting bit. Black drum and sheepshead are also being caught in these areas, although fishing along the beaches is producing a more consistent bite. 

I’m finding plenty of whiting while fishing along the beaches as well as a pompano here and there. Fishing the artificial reefs in the Gulf is proving to be productive for sheepshead although the abundance of bait stealers — pinfish, tomtates and small lane snapper — is enough to drive you crazy. Lastly, spotted sea trout are being found in deep sandy potholes in Tampa Bay