Rivers to Bay Report By: Capt. John Rivers

The New Year is here, so what’s in store this 2020 for Tampa Bay fishing? January can be a tricky month to predict as far as the fishing patterns go. But, one thing that is for certain is that live shrimp is usually the go-to bait, since white bait can be hard to come by unless you hit the Skyway; and, even then it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get the bait. If you’re heading out for a day of fishing, make sure you have some frisky live shrimp in the live well. Another bait to have on board is cut threadfin or cut chunks of mullet.

Now, if you’re an artificial bait user, wintertime is the time to dust off the lure boxes and tie on few of your favorites. You just might be surprised how good a day of fishing you’ll have.

Let’s talk about where the fish are located at the start of the New Year. Snook are up in the rivers and deep drop offs, unless we have an unusually warm end of December into January; then, some of the fish will still be on the flats. Most of the time they are in the rivers, ledges, docks and drop offs around bridges and structure.

Trout fishing is very good in January, and you’ll find these fish stacked on the flats in grass/sandy potholes in depths of five to seven feet. If the sun’s been out a while and it’s kind of a warm day, look for the bigger female fish up on the muddy flats in depths of two to three feet sunning themselves.

With the extreme negative tides, fish will be trapped in areas called large potholes. You might not be able to get your boat to these fish, but that’s when you bring out the waders and take your boat as close as you can, and then get out and wade–it’s like fishing in a barrel. There can be redfish, trout and even snook trapped in these large potholes. Live and artificials can work well in these areas, which can be 50 yards to as much as a couple 100 yards long and as wide, but shallow enough to work your way by foot, so as to not get the boat stuck on the exposed oyster beds.

Redfish will be up in the rivers and near the mouth of the rivers, and they will even venture out on the flats not far from the mouth of the rivers in search of food when the tide comes up some. Keep a shrimp or cut mullet handy when you see that tail tailing.

January can be a tricky month to predict, since you never know if we’re going to have a cold or warm start to the year; but, one thing is certain–fishing Tampa Bay in January can be a lot of fun. So, when the rest of the country is shoveling snow and dealing with ice, our rods are bent and the drags are singing nice.

Tight Lines. Capt. John

Capt. John Rivers operates Rivers To Bay Fishing Charters out of Tampa Bay and Tarpon Springs. With 18 years guiding experince and over 40 years of fishing knowledge, he can assure you a professional  / fun fishing adventure. Single or multi boat trips available. www.tampabayinshoreguides.com