By Michael Murphy
Fishing in Tampa Bay right now can be fun but annoying with the low tides and wind effect. Understanding the weather and the influence it has on the tides is paramount to a productive and great fishing trip. The falling tide and heavy north wind will create significantly lower tides than anticipated from the tide charts. Please be even more attentive to your surrounding weather patterns when using your tide charts. Warning, you might get stuck during extremely low tides.
Despite the weather conditions as they are, the fishing has been great. Bait like greenbacks are starting to populate at the towers. Manage your tides when throwing cast nets around the towers or you’ll be out a net or two. To be successful with your cast net throws, chum significantly upstream from the tower and stay aware of your net drift to draw the bait away from the tower.
So now let’s get some fishing done.
Snook are in surplus in the cuts in Cockroach Bay, Little Manatee River, Bishop Harbor and other tributaries that feed into Tampa Bay. As of mid-December, cold weather patterns have not yet presented themselves to push the trout back into their winter haunts; however, when the typical seasonal winter weather presents itself, we should see the trout start to accumulate in the residential canals and potholes of Cockroach Bay.
A fan favorite this time of year is the bountiful sheepshead. These fish will be coming in large quantities and impressive sizes for a great hook-it-and-cook-it at your local participating restaurants and or in your own kitchen. These fish are best caught on 1/0 hooks with a quarter-ounce weight; make sure to have enough to steady your lines and that you’re still able to feel the bite. Baiting is best with shrimp or fiddler crabs.
Redfish are elusive but ever-present. Chugging and plugging the mangrove lines during the higher tides with greenbacks, shrimp or cut pinfish could yield you a fine, impressive catch this time of year. When you find them, stay on them … and do not tell anyone about where these beauties reside in our incredible Tampa Bay Estuary.