Tampa Bay Fishing Report: February 2014

Power plant discharges keep plenty of fish and manatees warm in cold weather

Snook – (Snook season is closed until the end of February) If we all remember correctly back in the winter of 2010 is when we had that tremendous snook kill that almost decimated our snook popula- tion. I can remember marking bay water temperatures in the 40’s which is cold by anyone’s temperature gauge.
If you’re lucky enough to find some they’ll probably be lethargic and perhaps not willing to chase down bait. If you must target them in the winter months while they are trying to survive you might try dead bait on the bottom using a circle hook.

Redfish – continue to be fairly active with plenty of smaller fish running around channels and canals. Patience usually pro- duces the occasional slot size fish. Artificial, hard and soft baits, catch wintertime reds as well as shrimp and cut bait.

Spotted Sea Trout – Trout action usually goes off the wall with cooler water tem- peratures. Fish the strong in or out tides around deep water. They eat shrimp, small pinfish, greenbacks and artificial lures. Rig a popping cork with shrimp, either live or artificial and hang on. Soft plastic jerk style lures on a jig head produce excellent catches when bounced off the bottom. Re- member, the bite always comes on the fall, so don’t be surprised to have a fish on just after the lure hits the water.

Sheepshead & Snapper – will show up everywhere during the winter months. Try fishing markers, bridge fenders, docks, seawalls, rock piles, oyster bars or any type of structure. Shrimp and fiddler crabs work along with green mussels and oysters.

Power Plant Warm Water Discharges: (Try not to hook one of the numerous manatees!)

Pompano – Don’t be surprised when you hook into several nice pompano around the Big Bend and Weedon Island power plants. They are frequent visitors every winter along with many boats and manatees.

Cobia – Don’t be surprised to see one on the back of large rays and manatees. As the waters cool you should see them around the hot water discharges of power plants. Large shrimp on a 1⁄4 oz. jig head normally does the trick. But small or chunk crab also works.

Sharks – also frequent the warm water discharges this time of year, so don’t be surprised when you catch several while targeting Cobia. You’re more likely to catch them on the shallow sand bar on the

Capt. Woody Gore
Capt. Woody Gore has been fishing in Florida for over 50 years and offers guided fishing charters up and down Florida’s gulf coast For more information or to book a trip: Please call 813-477-3814, email wgore@ix.netcom or visit his website.

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