Saltwater: Anglers catching redfish in Tampa Bay
Fish of the Week
Redfish: The redfish bite is good for anglers in a number spots in the Tampa Bay area and at locations elsewhere.
Strike Zone, 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, Elsewhere
1: At Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, sheepshead, whiting and bonnethead sharks have been the most consistent catches this week. A few lane and mangrove snapper are also biting. The occasional redfish and speckled trout have also come over the rails, reports Big Pier 60 Bait & Tackle (727-462-6466).
2: At Madeira Beach, nearshore the hogfish and lane snapper bite is outstanding. The best depth to target the hogfish is around 30 feet, but the snapper are shallower and also good out to deep water. Good numbers of porgies and grunts are also in the mix nearshore. Deeper offshore, there’s a good red grouper bite. Scamp grouper along with mangrove, yellowtail and vermilion snapper are also biting in deep water. The pelagic anglers are getting blackfin tuna and “a chance at a wahoo,” reports Capt. Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina (727-393-1947).
3: At John's Pass, silver trout, whiting and the occasional pompano are biting from the jetty and on the beach. There are still bunches of sheepshead and black drum around the bridge, the docks and structure in the pass. A few snook have been caught from the docks early in the mornings. Speckled trout are also biting around the docks and the lights at night. Decent numbers of redfish are biting inside in the back bays, reports Hubbard.
4: At Fort De Soto Park, sheepshead are being caught around the marina, the bridge, the seawall and pretty much any structure in the area. Small shrimp, along with both fiddler and rock crabs are getting the bite. The canals all around Tierra Verde are producing good numbers of speckled trout up to 20 inches on live shrimp under a float. Snook are also biting inside the bayous of Tierra Verde. Good numbers of redfish are being caught on the flats around Tarpon, Bird and Jackass keys. East Beach is also good for redfish. The boat ramp area inside the park is producing good numbers of mangrove snapper. Irma Pass at Shell Key is producing good numbers of whiting. At the pier, plenty of sheepshead are biting around the pilings, reports Capt. Claude Hinson of Tierra Verde Bait and Tackle (727-864-2108).
5: Around the Sunshine Skyway and lower Tampa Bay, fishing around the Sunshine has remained solid, especially for snook, redfish, and speckled trout. Flounder are also biting over hard, sandy bottom, and some of the potholes on the flats. Some juvenile tarpon in the 20- to 40-pound range have also been caught in some deep wintertime spots, reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters (941-705-3160. Sheepshead are in full spawn mode throughout lower Tampa Bay. The big females have moved in and will eat just about any shrimp or crab you put in front of them. Bridge pilings and any of the artificial reefs in the bay are holding the sheepshead right now. Speckled trout fishing has been productive inside of Terra Ceia Bay and in the Manatee River on shrimp under a popping cork, reports Capt. John Gunter of Palmetto (863-838-5096).
6: At Anna Maria, the hogfish bite has been very good off of Anna Maria Island when the weather allows offshore travel. Water to a depth of 35 to 50 feet has been producing the best numbers, reports Gunter. Sheepshead are bunching up in all of their normal places around structure. The bridges, seawalls, docks and the rocks around Longboat Pass are all holding good numbers, reports Crawford.
7: At St. Petersburg, there’s a good speckled trout bite on live shrimp fished near the bottom around Pinellas Point. Sheepshead are being caught on fiddler crabs and shrimp at all the area bridges and reefs in the bay. Over the next few weeks, black drum should begin to gather at the bridges and the channel edges near the St. Pete Pier. Cut blue crab, live shrimp and Berkley Gulp! saltwater shrimp, jigged near the bottom will get the bite, reports Capt. Neill Holland of GoFishTampaBay.com (727-200-7781).
8: In the north end of Tampa Bay, redfish and speckled trout are biting on the area flats. Redfish are also biting in the upper bay around Rocky Creek and Double Branch. A few snook are also biting in the upper bay in those areas as well. Sheepshead are still biting around just about any structure and the bridges. The bridges are also producing black drum and jack crevalle. Whiting and a few black sea bass are biting along the seawalls and in the deeper channels. Whiting have also been caught around the Gandy boat ramp channel. Cobia are being caught around the power plant outflows and on the markers in the bay. Tripletail are also biting around some of the markers in the bay, reports Gandy Bait & Tackle (813-839-5551).
∙ At Homosassa and Crystal River, warmer water in the rivers that are on average 10 degrees warmer than the Gulf, are producing redfish and snook. Live shrimp on a jig head on the edges of the creaks are good for the redfish. Live shrimp and nose-hooked jerkbaits such as a D.O.A. CAL 5.5 inch in glow color are catching the snook. Potholes with warmer water on the flats are also producing speckled trout on the jerkbaits. Nearshore in 8 to 20 feet of water, the high rock piles and ledges are producing sheepshead on shrimp and crabs, reports Capt. Marrio Castello of Tall Tales Charters (352-454-7719).
∙ At Fort Pierce, offshore on the bottom, a lot of lane snapper and a few mangroves are biting at a depth of 20 to 50 feet. A few cobia are being caught on the bottom from 50 to 80 feet. That same depth is producing kingfish near the surface while slow-trolling live baits. North of the inlet, the reefs in 20 to 30 feet are producing sheepshead, porgies, snapper and croakers. Spanish mackerel are biting near the surface at the same depth. At the inlet, pompano are biting in the surf, both to the north and south. Whiting, croakers, bluefish and the occasional mackerel are also biting along the surf. In the inlet, catch and release snook are biting live shrimp and D.O.A. shrimp. Mangrove snapper, sheepshead and black drum are also biting in the inlet and around the bridges. The Melody Lane Pier is good for sand perch, reports the Fishing Center of St. Lucie (772-465-7637).
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Saltwater: Anglers catching redfish in Tampa Bay